LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS — It was game #2, win #2 for the new Potawatomi Fire, as they torched the Little Rock Lightning 112-91 on Sunday afternoon at the Jack Stephens Center on the campus of Arkansas-Little Rock.
Fire starting point guard Deshawn Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) had a monster game, scoring a game-high 38 points, along with 10 rebounds, five assists, and six steals. He also shot an outstanding 76% from the floor, making 16 of 20 shots nearly all of which were close range. “That’s his specialty — handling the ball and playing the pick and roll,” said Potawatomi Fire head coach Derrick Rowland. “He has great body control, can spin and use both hands around the rim. He’s a very skilled player. If you let him get to the basket, it’s either going to be a foul or bucket.”
A close game at the half turned into a rout in the second half as the Fire outscored the Lightning 26-21 in the third quarter and 35-20 in the fourth. For the game, the Fire shot 47% (38/80) from the field. An attack-the-basket style for the Fire yielded a significant edge in free throws, with Potawatomi making 31 of 39 free throw attempts for 79%, compared to just 10 of 15 for the Lightning. The Fire outrebounded the Lightning 54-42 and forced 21 turnovers.
Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) notched a double-double with 27 points and a team-high14 boards while Deon Lyle (Hastings, Neb. / UTSA) had 18 points and six rebounds. Former OSU Cowboy Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica) continued his strong defensive work, blocking four shots to go along with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Lawton (Okla.) product Tevin Foster (Abilene Christian) added nine points and two rebounds. Former OU Sooner David Godbold also had five rebounds with a steal and a block.
Percell Washington led Little Rock with 22 points and six boards while Jarvis Garner had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Little Rock is in its second year as a The Basketball League (TBL) franchise.
“You learn a little bit about everyone,” said Rowland, when asked about the first two games. “We found out who could help us down the stretch and who probably couldn’t. We’re still working on our execution because we haven’t been together that long. It’s easy to do things without pressure, and it’s a little tougher under pressure in a game.” Rowland, a former NBA and CBA player, has previously coached in the league, including the Albany Patroons, who he led to the postseason championship in 2019.
This was the second of a five-game road stretch for the Potawatomi Fire to begin their inaugural season before their first home game in Shawnee, Oklahoma at FireLake Arena on March 19. The Fire are the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in the country.
The next game for the Fire will be Friday night, March 11, when they travel to the other TBL franchise in Oklahoma, defending postseason champion Enid Outlaws.
The Potawatomi Fire compete in the Central Conference of The Basketball League, a new men’s professional basketball league with 44 teams in 20 different states across the country. The TBL season begins in March and runs through June, concluding with a championship tournament. The players that make up the rosters of the TBL teams are former NCAA (Division I to III) or NAIA athletes. Many have played in the NBA or NBA’s G-League as well as professionally overseas for several years and are continuing their careers closer to home.
Story by Justin Wollard • Photos by Landon Kidney