SHREVEPORT, LA — Statement made. On the ‘official’ opening night for the 2023 TBL season, the Potawatomi Fire delivered a resounding statement to the defending TBL champions and the rest of the league, with a 128-89 road domination of the Shreveport Mavericks. The new-look Fire held the high-powered Mavs to just 89 points, with 35.2% shooting from the field and 21.7% from outside. After a close first quarter, the Fire controlled the middle two quarters turning a six-point edge into a 40-point cushion.
Three big-time offseason signings led the way for the Fire on opening night. Lyle Hexom lead the balanced output with 19 points, one of seven Fire players in double figures. Hexom was on fire early and knocked down five of seven treys and grabbed four boards. T.J. Maston posted a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds and was 8 of 11 from the field. Another big offseason acquisition for the Fire, guard Chuck Guy had 16 points, eight assists, and three steals.
The 2022 TBL MVP Deshawn Munson had 15 points, nine assists, six boards, and also had three steals. K.D. Moore had 14 points and five rebounds. Tevin Foster had 13 points while former OU Sooner Je’lon Hornbeak made three triples and had 10 points. A.J. Turner had eight points and five boards. Theo Johnson who rejoined the Fire last week, had six points while 6-10 Chris Brand grabbed 10 boards to go along with his five points. TBL rookie Rashaun Coleman also had five points and three rebounds
When asked who stood out tonight for the Fire, new head coach Mark Dannhoff said, “Honestly, I could name several players who stood out, but really, our entire team stood out tonight. We had seven (of 11) players in double figures and shared the basketball with 22 assists.” He continued, “After the first eight minutes, I thought we played very well defensively. Any time you hold a team with as much offensive power as Shreveport to 35% field goal percentage, 21.7% from the three-point line, and 89 points total, you have had a pretty good night.”
The Fire shot 57% from the field and 45.2 from outside. They controlled the glass, with a 61-42 rebounding edge, and also handled the inside, with a 62-30 margin in points in the paint. The Mavericks attempted 46 shots from beyond the arc but made just 10 of them. The Fire hit 14 of 31 shots from outside. The Fire led 36-30 after one quarter and stretched their lead to 74-48 at halftime by outscoring the Mavs 38-18 in the second quarter. The visitors continued to dominate in the third frame, building their margin to 41 points (106-65). A near-even fourth quarter put the final score at 128-89.
Paul Parks led the Mavericks with 23 points, while P.J. Meyers and Jeff Boyd each had 13 points.
The 1-0 Fire will travel to Texas for a Sunday afternoon game versus the Rockwall 7ers. The game will tip off at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 5 at a still-to-be-determined location. You can hear Chris Cox on the call on KGFF or watch the game with a subscription to TBLTV.tv, via Rockwall’s livestream of the contest.
ABOUT THE FIRE AND THE BASKETBALL LEAGUE
The Potawatomi Fire concluded their first TBL (The Basketball League) season in June 2022, winning 21 of 29 games played including the playoffs. They were 18-6 in the regular season to earn the third seed in the Central Conference portion of the playoffs. They won their first round playoff series before falling in the conference semifinal round. The Fire are the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in Oklahoma. The Fire compete in the Central Conference of TBL, a men’s professional basketball league, now with nearly 50 teams in over 20 different states across the U.S. and Canada. The Fire organization was named the 2022 winner of the Jim Koch Award as TBL’s Best Ran Business, despite the Fire being a first-year franchise. The dance team of the Fire, the Fire Girls, were named Best Dance Team.
The TBL season begins in February and runs through June, concluding with a championship playoff tournament. The players that make up the rosters of the TBL teams are former NCAA (Division I, II, or III) or NAIA athletes. Many have played in the NBA or NBA’s developmental G-League as well as professionally overseas for several years and are continuing their careers closer to home or seeking a larger contract in another professional league.
Story by Justin Wollard • Photos by Landon Kidney