LITTLE ROCK, ARK. — After Mustapha Traore broke his single game scoring record on Friday night, Fire All-Star guard Deshawn Munson grabbed it right back Sunday afternoon, scoring 48 points and helping the Potawatomi Fire to a 107-96 victory over the Little Rock Lightning.
Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) missed a triple-double, finishing with 48 points on 19 of 28 shooting, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and six steals. Munson was also 11 of 13 from the free throw line. Drelan Tripplett (Oklahoma City, Okla. / York (NE) College) had 11 points and five rebounds. Fire newcomer Zach Shepherd had 10 points in his second game for the Fire. Mustapha Traore (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monmouth) had eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Another new face on the team, Justin Jones (Cypress, Texas / Texas A&M-Kingsville) scored eight points in his first action for the Fire. Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) contributed six points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.
The Fire encountered the same issues on Sunday that they faced in previous contests, finishing off a team after building a big lead. The Fire led 26-15 after the first quarter, 56-43 at the half, and 87-70 after three. They even led by as much as 26 points in the third quarter before the Lightning pushed back. The Fire shot 45% (39/85) from the field and 77% (21/27) from the foul line. The Fire were tops in steals (14-9), blocks (9-3), points in the paint (56-42), and bench points (29-18). The Lightning outrebounded the Fire by one (54-53) and handed out more assists (27-19).
Percell Washington had 36 points and 13 rebounds to lead Little Rock.
Munson originally set the Fire franchise single game record with 38 points versus Little Rock in the second game of the season before Traore topped the mark with 41 on Friday night at home versus Rockwall. The Fire swept the season series with Little Rock, winning all six meetings.
With the win Sunday, the Fire move to 14-4 on the year and stand in third place in the TBL Central Conference. Potawatomi clinched a playoff spot in their debut season with their win Friday night. The final six games over the next three weeks will determine the playoff seedings and matchups. The next game for the Fire will be their final regular season contest with their in-state rivals, the Enid Outlaws, Saturday night May 14 at FireLake Arena 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 • More photos coming later