SHAWNEE, OKLA. — In their first Sunday afternoon home game of the season, the Potawatomi Fire delighted their fans with a commanding performance against the Rockwall 7ers, winning 109-82. The Fire led by six after one quarter (25-19) and by 13 at the half before the 7ers closed the gap early in the third quarter. But a strong close to the third and solid fourth quarter propelled the Fire to their eighth win of their debut campaign.
Tevin Foster (Lawton, Okla. / Abilene Christian) came off the bench to lead the Fire with 33 points. Foster made 14 of 19 shots including 5 of 8 from outside. Several of Foster’s triples came in the second half as the Fire broke the game open.
“Foster came up huge today,” said Fire head coach Derrick Rowland after the game. “We were down a few guys due to injury and some of our starters were off a bit. What Foster and (Drelan) Tripplett gave us off the bench was big. To outscore a team 43-1 in bench points is just wild. But we have to have great bench production to be successful in this league. And what Munson and Allen continue to give us is huge as well. This was a great team win.”
Deshawn Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) registered another triple-double, his third of the season, tallying 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) recorded his fourth straight double-double with 21 points and 12 boards.
Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) had nine points while Deon Lyle (Hastings, Neb. / UTSA) had eight points and eight rebounds. Former Oklahoma Sooner David Godbold (Oklahoma City, Okla.) had a team-high 14 rebounds to go along with eight points. Drelan Tripplett (Oklahoma City, Okla. / York (NE) College) had seven points.
Sean Gardner led Rockwall with 30 points and four steals. Raylon Howard also had 18 points and three steals.
The win moves the Fire into first place, a half game ahead of Shreveport and Dallas and a game ahead of Enid. Several teams and their fan bases are questioning the unbalanced TBL Central Conference schedule that allows some teams such as Dallas to avoid playing some of the top teams in the league. The Fire are not scheduled to play the Dallas Skyline at all during the 2022 regular season. The Fire also do not have a game scheduled with the 1-9 Waco Royals, though Dallas and Waco play each other five times. Enid also plays both Dallas and Waco only one time each.
The Fire are on the road next weekend at Enid on Friday night and at Little Rock on Saturday. Then it’s a break for TBL All-Star Weekend on April 15-16 in Syracuse, New York. The all-star festivities include a three-point contest, a dunk contest, and an international battle between the TBL All-Stars and the NBL-Canada All-Stars. The next home game for the Fire is against Rockwall 7ers on Friday night, April 22.
The Potawatomi 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 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 began 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 • More photos coming later