SHAWNEE, OKLA. — Following a narrow loss to their in-state rivals the previous night, the Potawatomi Fire responded with a vengeance on Saturday. The Fire jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter against the Little Rock Lightning, saw the visitors cut into the deficit by the half before the Fire burned hotter in the second half for a convincing 119-99 victory. Deshawn Munson, the TBL Player of the Week, delivered his second consecutive triple-double and was one of five Fire players in double figures.
Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) tallied 21 points, with 14 assists, 11 rebounds, and five steals. Deon Lyle (Hastings, Neb. / UTSA) led the Fire with 25 points and also had five rebounds. Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) had 24 points while Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) registered a second straight double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. A new addition to this week to the Fire, guard Dwayne Lathan (Ruston, La. / Indiana State) contributed 19 points off the bench.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help us get the wins,” said Munson after another big night. “I’m happy to see everyone played and contributed. (I’m) just getting the ball to my guys and I’ll score or rebound, whatever it takes.”
An Anthony Allen dunk gave the Fire an early 13-0 advantage and the Fire continued to roll the rest of the quarter, leading 33-14. Little Rock cut into the lead in the second and trailed the Fire 49-42 at the intermission. But the Fire opened their lead back up in the third quarter behind their starting five and rolled to a twenty-point victory.
The Fire never trailed in the contest and controlled most of the stat categories including points in the paint 56-40; second-chance points 20-11; rebounds 64-57 and assists 26-17. Little Rock led in bench points, 42-32, due mainly to the 30 points of Jaskarn Bajwa who hit seven three-pointers.
Following an Enid Outlaw loss Sunday to Rockwall, the Fire sit in a three-way tie in first place (6-2) with Enid and the Dallas Skyline. The Fire get another opportunity at their new in-state rivals on Friday night, April 1 in Enid before returning home for a Sunday afternoon home game with the Rockwall 7ers. Tipoff for the 7ers’ game is 3 p.m. April 3 at FireLake Arena.
The Potawatomi Fire is the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in Oklahoma. The Fire competes in the Central Conference of The Basketball League (TBL), a new men’s professional basketball league with 44 teams in over 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