SHAWNEE, OKLA — Behind a 40-point swing in the mid part of the game, the Potawatomi Fire kept the top spot in the TBL Central with another convincing 122-103 win over the defending TBL champion Shreveport Mavericks. After the Mavericks took their largest lead at 50-36 with six minutes left in the second quarter, the Fire would go on a huge 65-26 run over the next two quarters of game time. When it was finished, the Fire held a commanding 101-76 lead with eight minutes left in the game. The Fire had six players in double figures, including three with 20-plus points.
TBL All-Stars Chuck Guy and Deshawn Munson led the way with double-doubles. Guy had a team-high 29 points, along with 13 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Munson had 24 points, a dozen boards, and six assists. Fire newcomer Darin Johnson had 22 points with six rebounds. “DJ” also was 11 of 14 from the foul line.
Lyle Hexom and Tevin Foster each had 12 points, with both players knocking down a pair of threes. K.D. Moore had 10 points and nine rebounds to go along with two steals and two assists. Paul Harrison, who was an integral part of the championship 2022 Mavs team, had nine points and seven boards.
Fire head coach Mark Dannhoff talked about how once again the third quarter was the best quarter for his team. “Well, the third quarter — it’s certainly been good to us. The problem in the first half and we talked about it at halftime was that we were just giving away too many points on both ends. They did a really good job. They were on fire knocking down tough threes. And when we didn’t get the rebound, they were kicking it back out and hitting threes because we weren’t in position to defend them. And we just weren’t playing very good defense all around. On the offensive end, we were missing layups. We were missing free throws. We had a lot of shots from the perimeter that went halfway down and came out. We kinda got our heads down a little bit.”
Dannhoff continued, “I said, ‘Everybody– just take a deep breath. We’re okay. The shots are gonna fall, but we’ve got to defend and rebound to create some offense for us.’ And sure enough, they came out in the second half. Munson was terrific in the second half. Chuck was outstanding as well. Everybody else just stepped up. I thought Paul Harrison and Darin Johnson had good games for us. Tevin Foster did a great job off the bench.”
While the Mavericks were hot from outside in the first half, the Fire focused more on attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. The Mavericks made 14 of 35 attempts from outside, with the majority of those coming in the first half. Both teams made 40 field goals, though the Fire were more efficient. The Fire shot 52% from the field while holding the Mavs to 38% shooting, though Shreveport attempted 27 more shots: Fire were 40 of 76 while the Mavs were 40 of 103.
Paul Parks led the Mavericks with 27 points on 8 of 16 shooting from outside, while P.J. Meyers had 18 points.
The Fire are on the road for another big game tomorrow (Saturday) night at Wichita. Tipoff with the Sky Kings will be at 7 pm from the Charles Koch Arena on the Wichita State University campus.
A rematch with the Oklahoma Panthers was recently added to the schedule for next Tuesday night, April 25. This game was originally scheduled as a road game on May 19 as part of the South Texas trip but has been changed to a bonus home game for the Fire. All season ticket holders get in free and all other seats are just $5.
BOX SCORE: FIRE 122, MAVERICKS 103
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