ENID, OKLA — Coming off just their second loss of the season, the Fire looked to be more assertive. This was especially true for their All-Stars, namely Deshawn Munson. After a few less-than-typical contests from the reigning TBL MVP, Munson and coach Mark Dannhoff had a meeting. The coach asked the player to play at a high level the rest of the season and that’s exactly what Munson promised to do.
Munson delivered on his promise Thursday night, with a double-double, scoring 30 points to go along with 12 rebounds and seven assists in the Fire’s 128-111 win at the rival Enid Outlaws. “He was terrific tonight,” said Dannhoff. “I’m really, really happy for him. After a couple of games of maybe not typical Deshawn Munson, we see the way he comes back and bounces back was just terrific.”
The Fire’s other All-Star, Chuck Guy, was also strong again against his former club and the only other team (other than Wichita) to beat the Fire in 2023. Guy delivered 18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals, and two blocks.
Other top scorers for the Fire included Ruston Hayward with 18 points and five rebounds. Darin Johnson had 15 points and three rebounds. Paul Harrison added nine points and four boards. K.D. Moore and T.J. Maston each had eight points and four rebounds. Chris Brand went for eight points and three rebounds.
The Fire again struggled at the foul line (17/32) but were able to overcome it as they dominated in the paint, outscoring Enid 76-44. That edge was also noted in second chance points at 28-12. The Fire controlled the glass, outrebounding the Outlaws by 60-45 edge. The Fire led by as much as 31 points after trailing by nine points in the first quarter.
Marvin Johnson led the Outlaws with 24 points, with Logan Hicks adding 22. The Outlaws were playing their first game under new coach Donald Harris, after recently parting ways with 2021 TBL title-winning head coach Ed Corporal.
Fire stay in first in TBL Central at 14-2 with one game lead over Shreveport and Wichita. Next up for the Fire is the Pearland Warriors, this Sunday, May 7 at 3 p.m. at FireLake Arena. It’s POGO Day at the Fire and kids 12 and under get in free while the first 300 fans score a POGO t-shirt.
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 • Photo by Landon Kidney