SHAWNEE, OKLA — The Potawatomi Fire withstood a hot start from their visiting in-state rivals and rallied to beat the Enid Outlaws, 102-91. The Outlaws jumped out to quick lead on 7 of 8 field goal shooting and led 16-8 midway through the first period, then stretched that lead to as much as 14 before ending the first stanza with a 31-19 edge. The Fire trimmed the margin to three (48-45) at the half, and took a one-point lead (69-68) into the final frame. While Enid settled for jump shots, the Fire continually drove to the basket earning a significant advantage from the foul line. The Fire made 30 of 40 free throws while the Outlaws were just 7 of 14. The Fire had seven players in double figure scoring and six players with at least six rebounds each.
The newest member of the Fire, Paul Harrison, had 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Coach Mark Dannhoff had no qualms about throwing Big Paul right into the fire. “I knew he was in shape. He gets up early and works out. He said he was ready. We kinda put him through a crash course on what we’re trying to do, offensively and defensively. He’s a really bright guy, with a high basketball IQ. He certainly made a difference for us tonight.” Harrison, who wears number 50, showed off his outside range with a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter.
2022 MVP Deshawn Munson had another stellar all-around game with a team-high 18 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. K.D. Moore had a solid game against his former club tallying 17 points with eight rebounds. Lyle Hexom had 14 points including three treys along with seven rebounds. Chuck Guy also posted a strong line against his former team, going for 11 points, nine assists, seven boards, and two steals. Je’lon Hornbeak had 11 points including a pair of triples. T.J. Maston had 10 points and six rebounds.
“We weren’t surprised. They (the Outlaws) have always come out each game and played extremely hard. Playing with a lot of enthusiasm and intensity and they were making shots, gaining confidence. I thought our guys settled down, and found their rhythm versus that zone. All we knew was that we could make our way back into it and once we did that, we felt good about our situation,” said Dannhoff on the hard-fought victory. It was the first meeting of the year for Dannhoff and several members of the Fire against the Enid team they played or coached for in 2022.
The Fire gave up 31 points in the first quarter, but only allowed 60 points over the last three quarters. Potawatomi held a 62-48 edge on the glass over a good rebounding club in Enid. That edge also showed up in second chance points, at 23 to 12. Most of the categories were even across the board, as they tend to be in a close, hard-fought contest.
Tay McKnight led the Outlaws with 16 points, one of five Enid players in double digits. Marvin Johnson and Ruston Howard each had 15 points. Ethan Chargois had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the 3-4 Outlaws.
The three-game Fire homestand will conclude on Saturday, March 25 against the Little Rock Lightning at 7 p.m. The Fire also travel to Enid on Sunday, March 26 for a 3 p.m. afternoon game with the Outlaws. If you can’t be here at FireLake Arena, you can listen to Chris Cox on the radio call on KGFF 100.9FM / 1450AM – Shawnee’s Hometown Radio Station. Or you watch the stream on TBLTV.tv with a paid subscription.
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, was named Best Dance Team.
The TBL season begins in late 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 and 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