SHREVEPORT, LA. — The Potawatomi Fire saw their highly successful inaugural season come to an end Saturday, as they fell to the Shreveport Mavericks, 120-110.
The Potawatomi Fire finished their first season, 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. Deshawn Munson is a top contender for TBL MVP and Friday was named All-Central Conference first team. Anthony Allen was previously named to the All-Central Conference second team after being among the league leaders in blocks and rebounds. Allen is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year.
Top MVP contender Deshawn Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) concluded his stellar campaign with 40 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Munson remains among the league leaders in per game averages in scoring (top 10 in TBL), rebounds (top 25), leads in assists, and is second in steals. He finishes 2022 with a league-high 12 triple-doubles.
Deon Lyle (Hastings, Neb. / UTSA) scored 19 points including 4 of 5 treys, all coming in the second half. Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) had 11 points and six rebounds. Tevin Foster (Lawton, Okla. / Abilene Christian) had 12 points and three rebounds and went 5 of 5 from the foul line. Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif. / Liberty) scored 12 points with three rebounds. David Godbold (Oklahoma City, Okla. / Oklahoma) had eight points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) had five points and six rebounds.
“That was a tough way for the season to end, but I’m proud of my players. We fought until the end. We had a great regular season but this is sometimes what happens. I tip my hat to Shreveport,” said Fire head coach Derrick Rowland. “It stings to lose. I thought we had a great chance to win tonight. Our guys played hard and we will be back next time.” On looking forward to the future, “We have a great core to build from and I’m looking forward to starting that process ASAP,” Rowland added. “These guys came together in February and brought exciting basketball to the fans in Shawnee, Oklahoma. This was a great season.”
The Fire were unable to find their range from deep, hitting just 6 of 27 (22%) while the home Mavs were hot, hitting on 14 of 37 attempts (37%). The Fire led in points in the paint (60-40) and fast break points (23-2) but trailed in rebounding (54-46) and points from turnovers (10-3). The two teams were nearly equal in field goal shooting (47% for the Fire to 45% for the Mavs) as well as the free throw line: Fire ending at 26/36 (72%) while the Mavericks were 28/37 (75%).
The Fire led early by as much as six before the Mavericks pushed back ahead to lead 31-25 after the first quarter. The tense, close contest continued in the second quarter as Shreveport took a 50-45 lead into the locker rooms. That the Fire were able to stay that close was a minor miracle as the Mavs shot 22 free throws in the first half and made 15 of them compared to 8 of 11 for the Fire. The Fire were also just 1 of 12 from long range in the first half, while the Mavericks made 5 triples to build their small margin. The Mavericks picked things in the third quarter, hitting eight threes to build their lead to 89-76. The Fire turned up the heat in the final quarter, but were unable to get any closer than nine points.
Paul Harrison led Shreveport with 29 points, one of six Mavs in double figures. The Mavericks will now play the top-seeded Enid Outlaws, with game one coming up next week in Shreveport before the next two games in Enid.
ABOUT THE FIRE AND THE BASKETBALL LEAGUE
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