Vikings tweeking game plan for St. Ignace

Burt Angeli/Daily News (Iron Mountain) Baraga’s Martina Jahfetson (10) defends Stephenson’s Emily Johnson (13) in Wednesday’s Division 4 Region 25 championship in Kingsford.

BARAGA — The Baraga Vikings are five games into the postseason with their most recent 45-40 win over the Stephenson Eagles who finished the season 12-10 on Wednesday. The taller team proved to be a challenge for the Vikings, who took to the free throw line to gain separation.

“It was a tough game,” said Vikings coach Tom Goodreau. “We had to deal with their size, so that created some issues with us. Towards the end of the end of the game, we were able to move the ball real quickly (and) expose the gaps in their defense.

“With our dribbling and passing, we really quickened up the pace on Stephenson and when we did, they got into a situation where they had to foul and we were fortunate that we shot well (with) two out of four, I think it was, in the last couple of minutes. That’s what ended up helping us get the win.”

Goodreau wants his team to keep playing the game that they know and he is happy with their ability to compartmentalize during a game when under intense pressure.

“That’s the thing,” said Goodreau. “(I) just keep letting the girls know that they’ve just got to keep playing their own game. They’ve got to do what they’re capable of doing. When things do happen, you’ve got to put it in the past quickly and we’ve got to be able to move forward and move on to the next play.

“That’s sometimes a problem with having such a young team. These girls play well beyond their years. They play fairly composed basketball and when the crowd gets into it, it gets really exciting. You’d figure in situations like that, the girls that are a little bit younger the girls might falter, but so far we’ve been fortunate that they really haven’t.”

The St. Ignace Saints are known for their full court press and come into Tuesday’s matchup with a undefeated record at 25-0. Goodreau, like any good coach, reached out to Houghton Gremlins coach Julie Fillpis, who has experience against the Saints.

“I’m doing my research,” said Goodreau “I’ve reached out to Julie Fillpis. She has past history with St. Ignace, with Houghton having played them several times in the last few years (and) I’ve received some clips and things like that.

“I can tell that they are definitely an aggressive team. That’s something that we’re pretty good at, handling pressure even though we are a young team. I’m hoping to use that to our advantage.”

Most of the last five postseason games for the Vikings came on one day of preparatio, but this matchup will leave Baraga with six days to rest and recharge in preparation for the next contest. So Goodreau and his team have time to focus in on individual aspects of their game with plan to pull it all together during Sunday’s practice.

“One thing I’ve been told time and time again is that St. Ignace brings a full court press for a complete game and they rotate in players every 2-3 minutes so that they have fresh legs on the court all the time,” Goodreau said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us.”

While prepping for the press is all well and good, Goodreau is quick to remind his team that old issues still exist in their game.

“We also need to work on boxing out and rebounding,” said Goodreau “We need to take advantage of their pressing, almost to the point where we can turn their pressure into an advantage for us and set up plays in that respect.”

The extra time off is helpful for the Vikings, who have not been through a run this deep.

“Being able to have some time in between the games is definitely an advantage for us because we’re not used to being in this position,” Goodreau said. “We’re just looking at this from a different perspective and now that we’ve made it this far, to have this rest is advantageous to us.

“We came into practice today and we focused completely on shooting. How we need to work the ball on our offense (and) take advantage of their pressure and turn that into points for us. We focused on that today, and tomorrow we’ll focus on something else. We’ll definitely be doing rebounding in there.”

“That’s the way we like to do it,” he said. “I like to try and divide it up and then in one of our practices, probably on Sunday, we’re going to put it all together so that we’ve got each component covered. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got everything covered. At this stage in the game, you should be pretty well-versed in what you want to do. It’s just sometimes you have to go over things so it’s fresh in kids’ memories.”

“They continue to prove people wrong, right from the beginning of the season on. Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”

St. Ignace and Baraga will meet in Escanaba on Tuesday.