SHAWNEE, OKLA. — An Enid Outlaws three-pointer with four seconds remaining broke an 87-87 tie and gave the visitors a 90-87 victory over the Potawatomi Fire in a highly-charged, intense atmosphere Sunday afternoon at FireLake Arena.
“I’m not happy with the result but this was a good game,” said Fire head coach Derrick Rowland. “We had too many turnovers and missed opportunities. I liked our defensive intensity and how we battled back and stayed in the game after getting down. But we need to cut down on the mistakes and learn from this game.”
TBL All-Star guard Deshawn Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) notched his sixth triple-double of the season, with a team-high 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) had 20 points and 8 rebounds. Center Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) recorded another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Tevin Foster (Lawton, Okla. / Abilene Christian) and Drelan Tripplett (Oklahoma City, Okla. / York (NE) College) led the bench scoring with 13 and 10 points respectively.
After holding a four-point edge after one quarter (23-19), the Fire went cold in the second and trailed 48-41 at the half. The Fire turned up the heat in the third quarter and led by three (71-68) going to the fourth. Neither team led by more than four points in a back and forth final frame. The Outlaws took a four-point lead at 87-33 with just under two minutes remaining. Single free throws by Allen and Traore cut the margin in half before a steal and layup from Traore tied the game at 87 apiece. Both teams missed shots in the final minute before a three-pointer by Kierra Moore with just under four seconds left gave the Outlaws the lead. A last-second game-tying attempt by Foster was off the mark in the heartbreaking loss.
As Coach Rowland noted, turnovers were a big story in the contest with the Fire committing 29 turnovers to 17 for the Outlaws. The Fire were also outshot from long range, hitting just six of 30 attempts (20%) compared to 36% (7/19) for Enid. The teams were near equal in field goal shooting (Fire-44% to Outlaws-41%) and equal in points in the paint with 50 each. The Fire blocked nine Enid shots and held the advantage on the boards at 59-42.
Ricky Artis II had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead Enid. Moore, who avoided a possible ejection earlier in the game despite aggressively shoving a Fire player during a scuffle, had 16 points and seven rebounds. Both teams were assessed technicals during the incident though other penalties potentially could have been called.
The loss drops the Fire into third place at 12-4, trailing Enid and Shreveport by a game and Dallas by a half game. All four Fire losses have come at the hands of their in-state rivals, including losses by six, four, and three points. The long homestand that started the season’s second half for the Fire concludes this Friday night, May 6 when they host the Rockwall 7ers at 7 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