ST. LOUIS, MO — It’s fitting that the Run It Back Tour ’24 would come down to this. After a perfect 20-0 regular season and 6-0 playoffs so far, the Potawatomi Fire are just two wins away from completing their mission and becoming the first-ever back-to-back champions in TBL history. In their way stands the last team to beat the Fire and their opponent from last year’s TBL Finals, the St. Louis Griffins.


The Fire have swept their way to the Finals, defeating Wichita, Texas, and Los Angeles to arrive at the championship series. In game two Saturday, the Fire trailed 30-19 to the L.A. Ignite after the first period before a 17-0 run put the Fire ahead to stay. The Griffins have taken a tougher path, losing the first game of each series on the road, before rallying to win both games in each series versus Kokomo, Medora, and Raleigh. The Griffins needed a big fourth quarter rally and last-second shot in overtime to top the Raleigh after the Firebirds had tied the game late in Sunday’s regional final deciding game.

Game one of the best-of-three series in the race for “The Lillie” is Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m. and will be played in St. Louis at the Emerson Performance Center on the campus of Harris Stowe State University. Fittingly several players in the game, including Deshawn Munson of the Fire along with Nate Rigmaiden and Dallis Johnson of the Griffins, played college ball at Harris Stowe. Game two will be back in Oklahoma at FireLake Arena in Shawnee on Sunday night, June 23 at 7 p.m. If necessary, the deciding game three will be Monday night, June 24 at 7 p.m. at FireLake Arena. Live stats for the series can be found here.


The Fire not only have the best record in TBL but are the top-scoring team in TBL, averaging 130.8 points. They also lead in assists (28.8) and rebounds per game (47.5). St. Louis leads the TBL in steals with 12 per game. They rank 11th in team scoring, averaging 115.4 points per game.


Fire head coach Mark Dannhoff earned his second straight TBL Coach of the Year award in 2024. He’s in his second season with the Fire and third season overall in TBL and has an astounding 76-10 mark (88.4%) as a head coach in the league. The Fire own the longest winning streak in TBL history, at 26 games (28 counting last season) as well as a 35-game home-court winning streak. 


The postseason honors continue to pour in for the Fire and rightfully so for the undefeated defending champs. 

Chuck Guy: Guy is a leading candidate for TBL MVP and grabbed First Team All-TBL and All-Central Conference honors. He also earned a TBL All-Star nod and Player of the Week honors during the season. Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, Co-playoff MVP, and First Team All-TBL honoree, his numbers speak for themselves again this year as he ranks in the TBL top ten in multiple categories including points (23.7-9th), assists (11.3 -1st), steals (2.3 – 7th), free throw percentage (84.6%-tied 9th) and threes made (66-5th). Guy became the first player in TBL history to top 2000 career points. He’s also broken Fire team records for points with 55 versus Enid in midseason and assists with 21 vs Texas in the playoffs. 

Deshawn Munson: Munson earned Honorable Mention All-TBL as well as Second Team All-Central adding to his incredible run as the longest-tenured Fire player. Munson was the 2022 MVP, Co-playoff MVP with Guy in last season’s title run, and multi-time honoree for all-league, all-conference, and all-star honors. He also ranks among this year’s league leaders in rebounds (12.5-2nd), defensive rebounds (9.7-1st), and assists (6.4-8th) and has recorded more triple-doubles than anyone in the league over the last three years. He broke his own team record for rebounds with 25 on June 1 versus Wichita. This series is a personal one for Munson, as he is matching up with friends and former teammates from his hometown.

K.D. Moore: The leading scorer for the Fire Moore was named first team all Central Conference after earning third team honors last year. His 25+ points per game and nearly 64% field-goal percentage are top 10 and TBL. He has recorded 30 or more points in eight games this season. He’s also shooting 46% from three-point range while grabbing six boards and recording a block and a steal per game.

Ricky Artis II: Recently named TBL’s Co-6th Man of the Year, the production, energy and entertainment given by Artis is rivaled by few in TBL. He averaged 18 points and eight rebounds per game, mostly off the bench as the Fire’s top reserve. His season highs included 41 points and 17 rebounds. His 64% field goal percentage ranks in the TBL top 10.

Paul Harrison: The only two-time champion in TBL history, Harrison rejoined the Fire on May 11 after playing in the Basketball Super League with Sudbury and Windsor in Canada. Big Paul hasn’t missed a beat as he has scored in double digits in all but one game that he’s played significant minutes. His best games this year have been his most recent games as he scored 31 and 25 in regional final wins over the Los Angeles Ignite. In the game one win in California, he also had nine rebounds and six assists. 


Jachai Simmons has started every game in his first season with the Fire, tallying 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. His season highs include 27 points on April 6 vs Santa Ana and 18 rebounds on May 11 vs Texas. The former TBL All-Star Simmons contributes in a multitude of ways as some nights it is his scoring with threes and dunks or another with rebounding and defense.

Ruston Hayward is another top reserve for the Fire, doing whatever is needed to help the team when he’s on the floor. Hayward goes for nine points, four boards, 2.5 assists, and a steal per night. His season highs include 20 points on March 15 vs Wichita, twice getting 9 boards in a game, and eight assists also vs the SkyKings on May 17.

T.J. Maston’s second Fire season has been inconsistent but when he’s on, he can dominate for stretches. Maston went for nearly nine points per game along with 3.2 rebounds. His season highs include 22 points vs Enid on March 1 and nine boards vs the Outlaws on May 6.

Isaiah Wade joined the Fire prior to the April 25 vs Santa Ana and notched his season-high of 28 points in the second game with the team. For the last nearly two months with the Fire, Wade who played in the G-League and in China, has averaged 11.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. He grabbed 15 rebounds in the May 3 win over Wichita.

Forward Myron McGowan averaged 5.7 points per game while shooting 32% from long range. Guard Jaylen Mahone put in nearly five points per game in his rookie TBL season. Veteran big man Chris Brand is a force inside defensively and on the glass in his second season with the Fire.


Head coach and co-owner Nate Griffin returns many of the players that got the Griffins to the Finals last year in their first year as a TBL franchise. St. Louis was the last team to defeat the Fire, a 106-104 overtime game one victory on June 23, 2023 at Jennings High School in the 2023 TBL Finals. One of the biggest new additions for St. Louis is Courtney Stockard. The 6-5 guard from St. Bonaventure was First Team all-TBL after averaging 23.1 points, 10.8 rebounds (4th in TBL), 8.6 defensive rebounds (t-3rd), and 2.4 steals (t-4th). 

Other top scorers for the Griffins include returning players Martavian Payne (19.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.1 apg), lefty shooting guard Marcus Latham (16.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 85.7% free throws), and NiSean Rigmaiden (10.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.6 apg). Rigmaiden hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in St. Louis’ regional final win over the Raleigh Firebirds. His brother Nate Rigmaiden (9.6 ppg) is the only player to have played for both St. Louis and Potawatomi (in 2022). Also back for the Griffins this year is a group of 6-5/6-6 forwards including Miles Nettles, Dallis Johnson, Ray Crossland, and Brandon Johnson. The primary strength of this group is defense and rebounding, though Crossland does average nine points per game. Other new Griffin players making contributions include guard James McKelvin (10.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in his third TBL season) and 6-11 Tremon Weston (5.4 ppg and 4.5 rpg).

“You gotta give a lot of credit to St. Louis, to their coaches and players, for an amazing season and working their way through the playoffs,” said Dannhoff. “It was fun to watch them come back in the regional finals. I think they were down by 13 with six minutes to go and come all the way back to win in overtime. They’re playing well and playing extremely hard. They know who they are and stick to their identity.”

Tickets for game two in Shawnee are still available from this website or the FireLake Arena box office. Fans will be able to watch a live stream of the TBL Finals on TBL TV. You can also listen to the games on KGFF Radio (100.9 FM/1450 AM/ Be sure to follow the Fire on social media (InstagramFacebookX) to stay up to date with all the latest information on the Fire.

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 men’s professional basketball league, now with 38 teams across the U.S. and Canada. Along with winning the TBL championship in 2023, the Fire organization was named the 2022 winner of the Jim Koch Award as TBL’s Best Ran Business. The dance team of the Fire, the Fire Girls, were named TBL’s 2022 Best Dance Team and Central Conference Best Dance Team in 2023 and again in 2024.

The TBL season begins in February and runs through June, concluding with a championship playoff tournament. The players that make up the rosters of the TBL teams are former NCAA (Division I, II or III) or NAIA athletes. Many have played in the NBA’s developmental G-League and/or professionally overseas.


Story by Justin Wollard / Photos by Kent Bush