ENID, OKLA — After watching their 14-point lead dwindle in the late stages of the fourth quarter, the Potawatomi Fire held on and escaped Enid with a 103-101 victory in an intense game one of the best-of-three second round series. Chuck Guy and Deshawn Munson led the way for the Fire as the two All-Stars paced their team to victory.
Guy had 21 points including some big threes and free throws down the stretch. His efforts also included eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Munson had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, to go along with seven assists and two steals. Paul Harrison had a team high 23 points, and also grabbed four rebounds. Also in double figures for the Fire were K.D. Moore with 18 points and seven rebounds and Lyle Hexom with 13 points and seven boards.
The Fire battled back and forth with the Outlaws in the first quarter, and led by five after one. Behind strong inside play from Harrison in the second, the Fire doubled that margin and led 57-47 at the midpoint. They continued to add to the lead and led 85-71 going to the fourth. The Fire held a double digit edge for most of the fourth, and went up by 13 points (98-85) following Harrison’s three pointer with 3:57 left in the game. Enid rallied and were within one point with 28 seconds remaining. But Guy was the guy in the end, scoring his team’s final five points from the free throw line to hold on for the victory. The Outlaws had a chance to win or tie the game in the final nine seconds but were stopped by the visiting Fire and didn’t even get off a final shot.
Fire head coach Mark Dannhoff was pleased with the road win but unhappy with his team’s play late. “I’m glad we won but wasn’t pleased with how we closed. I thought that Enid won the 50-50 balls. I liked how we kept Enid off the glass in the first half but Enid did much better there towards the end of the game which kept them in it.”
Dannhoff continued, “I really liked the balanced effort from everyone and we will need that going forward. Even the guys who didn’t score found ways to contribute like Tevin Foster and Ricky Artis II. Chuck is the heart and soul of this team like I’ve said before and really hit some big shots. He is banged up more than most at this point but battled and still hit some big buckets down the stretch. Deshawn Munson, Paul Harrison and K.D. Moore played really well and attacked the basket. Paul really played well in the second quarter as we built the lead. Munson’s rebounding especially was huge.”
Game one of this series was a prime example of the path to victory that the Fire have taken many times this season. Two of the top guards in all of TBL (Guy and Munson) move the ball well or attack the basket and get themselves or their teammates to the foul line. While other teams (like Enid, Shreveport or Wichita) settle for outside shots, the Fire move the ball well and drive to the basket more than their opponents. Enid made and attempted considerably more threes than the Fire (12/41 for 29% compared to the Fire’s 5/24 for just 20%), but the Fire attacked and got to the charity stripe more (22/32 for 68% to Enid’s 9/12 for 75%).
The two-point margin of victory was one of many areas where the teams were close. The Fire were tops in rebounds (51-44) while the Outlaws had a slight edge in assists (21-16). The Fire led in points in the paint (58-46) and second chance points (20-14). The Outlaws were tops in bench points (43-29) and also in fast break points (24-12). The Fire were leading or tied for all but two minutes of the game.
“It’s tough to win on the road but we’re happy to get it done,” Dannhoff added. “This wasn’t a must win but in a three game series when you’re on the road for game one, it’s really great to get the win. Give credit to Enid. They were down by 14 late in the fourth and didn’t give up and fought back.”
Marvin Johnson led the Outlaws with 29 points, while Ethan Chargois had a team high 10 rebounds to pair with 14 points. They also had five players in double figures.
The Fire will now look to close out the series with a victory on Saturday, when they host the Outlaws for game two at 7 p.m. from FireLake Arena. Game three if necessary would be Sunday night also at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available now for games two and if necessary game three from potawatomifire.com/tickets or Stubwire.com with prices starting as low as $10 for general admission. This series is included in the season ticket package for all Fire season ticket holders.
Fans can also listen to the action on KGFF 100.9 FM/1450 AM/kgffradio.com – Shawnee’s Hometown Radio Station, with Chris Cox on the call. You can also watch the games on TBLTV.tv with a paid subscription. Cox’s radio call is the audio for the live stream for all Fire home games.
ABOUT THE FIRE IN 2022 AND THE BASKETBALL LEAGUE
The Potawatomi Fire concluded their first TBL (The Basketball League) season in June 2022, 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. They won their first round playoff series before falling in the conference semifinal round. The 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 TBL, a men’s professional basketball league, now with nearly 50 teams in over 20 different states across the U.S. and Canada. The Fire organization was named the 2022 winner of the Jim Koch Award as TBL’s Best Ran Business, despite the Fire being a first-year franchise. The dance team of the Fire, the Fire Girls, were named Best Dance Team.
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 or NBA’s developmental G-League as well as professionally overseas for several years and are continuing their careers closer to home or seeking a larger contract in another professional league.
Story and photos by Justin Wollard