SHAWNEE, OKLAHOMA — One of TBL’s newest and hottest franchises gave their new fans a great show in their first-ever home game. Between the atmosphere and production, to the Fire Girls and Mo the Fire Wolf plus a hometown hero in attendance, fans were pumped by the experience. And most importantly, the Potawatomi Fire thrilled their fans with their play on the court, dominating with a blowout 123-93 win over the Little Rock Lightning. The win for the Fire improved their debut season record to five wins and a single defeat.
The Fire burned bright in the first half, taking a 34-22 first quarter lead and a 61-39 margin at the break. After the Lightning cut into the margin in the third quarter, the Fire pulled away with a 40-25 edge in the final quarter. The Fire shot 49% from the field (39/79) and made 10 three-pointers. Potawatomi had an edge on the glass (56-46), in points in the paint (54-40), and a monster margin in bench scoring, topping Little Rock by 51 points (67-16).
Fire newcomer Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif. / College of Charleston) exploded for 28 points, leading the Fire as seven different Potawatomi players scored in double figures. Johnson shot 8 of 12 from the floor while also making 9 of 10 from the foul line. Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) had 17 points, five rebounds, and four steals. The newest face for the Fire, guard Nate Rigmaiden (St. Louis, Mo. / Harris-Stowe) had 16 points and five assists. Deshawn Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) had 14 points, eight assists, and four rebounds. Tevin Foster (Lawton, Okla. / Abilene Christian) also had 14 points.
The Fire’s Deon Lyle (Hastings, Neb. / UTSA) had 10 points and five rebounds. Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) had 10 points and nine rebounds. Calvin Giles Jr. (Cleveland, Ohio / Harris-Stowe) also grabbed nine boards. Percell Washington led Little Rock with 23 points and added five rebounds. Deverell Biggs also had 21 points, ten rebounds, and five assists for the Lightning.
Former OU Sooner Creed Humphrey, NFL center for the Kansas City Chiefs, was in attendance on the big night for his hometown. “The first home game was a great success, for the players, the community, and everyone involved,” said Fire general manager David Qualls. “What we have been promising to bring to Shawnee, we delivered. We’re very grateful for the outpouring of support from the community and the local businesses.”
The home games continue next weekend for the Fire as they host back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday: first with in-state rival Enid Outlaws on Friday night and then a return matchup with these Little Rock Lightning. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
The Potawatomi Fire is the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in Oklahoma. The Fire competes in the Central Conference of The Basketball League (TBL), a new men’s professional basketball league with 44 teams in 20 different states across the country. The TBL season begins 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 • Player action photos by Landon Kidney
Crowd photo courtesy of Rachael Melot/Shawnee Forward