SHAWNEE, OKLA. — At this point in the season, having played each other many times, teams are very familar with the other’s tendencies. Friday night was another example for the Potawatomi Fire and Little Rock Lightning. In their fifth meeting of the season, the Fire earned a hard-fought result on their way to a 103-98 victory.
Following consecutive triple-doubles the previous weekend, guard Deshawn Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) nearly recorded another on Friday, tallying a team-high 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. Deon Lyle (Hastings, Neb. / UTSA) had 23 points including six three-pointers. It was yet another double-double for the big man Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) with 16 points and team-high 18 rebounds. Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tevin Foster (Lawton, Okla. / Abilene Christian) was the fifth Fire player in double figures with 10 points, including 6 of 7 from the free throw line.
After trailing by one point after one quarter, the Fire used a nine-point edge in the second frame to take a 55-47 at the break. The Fire led 79-72 after three quarters but Little Rock rallied in the fourth quarter and even led on a few occassions in the last five minutes. Key layups and big free throws down the stretch from Munson, Lyle, Foster and Drelan Tripplett (Oklahoma City, Okla. / York (NE) College) helped seal the win for the Fire.
Much like the narrow final score, many of the key categories were also close. The Fire outrebounded the Lightning 68-50 but the teams were equal in points in the paint with 50 each. The Fire shot 38% from the floor while Little Rock went for 39%. The Lightning made eight from outside while the Fire knocked down seven. Free throws ended up being a difference for the Fire, as they made 26 of 39 (66%) while the Lightning shot just 57%.
Percell Washington had 32 points and 19 rebounds to lead Little Rock.
“There’s no secrets between teams at this point,” said Fire head coach Derrick Rowland. “When you’ve played each other so much, teams know how to gameplan for each other. We’re happy to get this win and get ready for Sunday. We have a huge game with Enid on Sunday for first place and need all the fans to come out to FireLake and be loud.”
This win keeps the Fire in a first place tie at 12-3 with Enid (with Shreveport also in the mix). The Oklahoma in-state rivals meet for the fifth time this season on Sunday, with the Fire looking to avenge their worst loss of the season on April 8 at Enid. Sunday’s game will celebrate women-owned businesses with speakers and networking prior to the game beginning at 1:30 p.m. It is also Pink Out For Cancer Day with special jerseys and other promotions during the game. Women get in free for Sunday’s game with tipoff at 3 p.m.
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 • Photos by Landon Kidney and Justin Wollard
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