SHAWNEE, OKLA — Another night, another show of might. Behind eight players in double figures, the Potawatomi Fire rolled the Rockwall 7ers 142-94, extending their winning streak (officially) to seven games.
Fire newcomer Ruston Hayward scored 19 in his second game with Potawatomi and tied K.D. Moore for the team high for the night. Hayward signed earlier this week with Fire after playing the first half of the season with the Enid Outlaws. Hayward, a 6-5 forward from Houston, also had eight rebounds and finished a spectacular fourth quarter alley-oop from Rashaun Coleman. Moore also had six rebounds and helped the Fire set another team record, this time for blocks. Moore and Chris Brand each had three rejections, part of the new team single game record of twelve.
Darin Johnson had 18 points while Lyle Hexom had 16 points. Both players were hot from outside, knocking down half of the Fire’s ten makes from beyond the arc. Hexom tied Hayward with a team-high eight rebounds. Chuck Guy handed out a team-best 14 assists to go along with 13 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. Paul Harrison added 13 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks.
Tevin Foster had 12 points while Theo Johnson had 1o points. Deshawn Munson and T.J. Maston each had eight points as several starters played more limited minutes than usual with the quick back-to-back (Fire play Saturday night and Sunday afternoon). Munson also had seven assists and four rebounds.
Coach Mark Dannhoff was happy with how his team approached the game. “I was really pleased with how we came out with a lot of intensity and urgency on defense. I thought we ran good offense. We missed a lot of bunnies early on and just didn’t complete the play but the guys stayed with it. They continued to battle and then those shots started to fall as the game went on and we felt more and more comfortable. So I was really pleased with how we approached the game tonight.”
Among the other statistical good news, the Fire dominated bench points (78-14), fast break points (42-13), and points in the paint (86-34). The Fire also outshot the 7ers, 54% to 30.4%. After a first quarter that left the teams tied at 22, the Fire nearly doubled up the visitors with a 35-18 quarter edge to lead 57-40 at halftime. The Fire fun continued in the second half, with the Fire controlling both quarters: 43-28 in the third and 42-26 in the fourth.
Troy Jones led the 7ers with 26 points, while Dennis Jones had 15 points. Britt Hammons had 12 points and a team-high 11 boards.
The Fire are back on the road for a quick turnaround, another big game Sunday afternoon at Wichita. Tipoff with the Sky Kings will be at 3 pm from the Charles Koch Arena on the Wichita State University campus. The Fire will then battle in-state rival, Enid next Thursday night up north. Tipoff at the Stride Bank Center in Enid will be at 7 pm on Thursday, May 4. Then, on Sunday, May 7, it’s POGO day at the Fire when the Fire host Pearland. Pottawatomie GO is a community effort to achieve and sustain measurable health improvements to help everyone in our community.
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