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Marisa Oleksiak works around Dakota's Kylie Churches in a double OT district final game won by the Crusaders at Port Huron Northern last year. The championship classic will not be repeated this year as the two teams will meet in a district semifinal. (File Photos)
Basketball - Girls
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Girls' teams seek to advance
Megan Hambaum of Richmond battles for a rebound in a game against L'Anse Creuse North earlier this season. The Blue Devils have been assigned to the district at Marysville.
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Three districts are being played locally.
At Dakota, the Cougars are hosting L'Anse Creuse North, Port Huron Northern, Anchor Bay and Port Huron High School. The semifinals are slated for Wednesday while the championship game will take place Friday.
The host team, which capped off a 9-3 season in the rugged MAC Red, losing twice to last year's Class A state runner-up, Grosse Pointe South, take on MAC Blue co-champ L'Anse Creuse North Wednesday in a battle of two strong Macomb Township squads. The other side of the bracket pits Port Huron against the winner of tonight's Port Huron Northern-Anchor Bay contest. The Huskies were co-champs of the MAC White while Anchor Bay went 6-6 in the MAC Gold.
The coach of the host Cougars sees the district as one of the most difficult in the state. With a pair of MAC division champs, LCN and Port Huron Northern, stacked against his strong MAC Red squad, he could have a good point.
"We start off with L'Anse Creuse North, who just won the MAC Blue with an overall record of 17-2. Bob Johnston is an outstanding coach that always get's the most out of his players. Marisa Olesiak is one of the best point guards in southeast Michigan, and they have two very good post players in Clark and Brown to go along with a great 3-point shooter in Destiiny Rache," Phil McCune said.
The Cougars will be looking to avenge a double overtime loss to the Crusaders last season.
"I think if we get by LCN we would probably match up with Port Huron Northern. Once again, a very well-coached team by Mark Dickenson. They are having a tremendous season, winning the MAC White with an 18-2 overall record. We did play them earlier this season and they did give us some troubles in the first half before we were able to pull away in the second half, winning by 14 points," McCune said. "They are similar to LCN, having so many athletes on the floor at one time. Becca Richards is having a great season as PHN's point guard, getting everyone involved. The Fealko sisters are also doing very well."
Dakota's strength of schedule may be a key in the district and beyond, their coach believes.
"Having played in the MAC Red this season I believe we should be battle tested enough to compete in this very difficult district. Also winning three out of the last four districts I believe we know what it takes to win. We won't take anyone lightly and we will be ready for the task," McCune said.
The winner of the district advances to the Lake Shore regional to face the winner of the Sterling Heights district Tuesday, March 5.
In Class B, Marysville will host three Blue Water Area Conference teams and a MAC rival.
The Vikings tip off district play tonight against Algonac. The winner takes on Marine City Wednesday. On the other side of the bracket, Richmond and St. Clair also play tonight with Armada awaiting the winner Wednesday. The two semifinal winners will tangle in Friday's championship matchup.
Marysville, winner of the district last year, is likely the favorite but their coach sees it as a wide open grouping of teams.
"The BWAC had some tremendous depth this year and each of these teams will be battle tested and they are all well coached," Viking coach Ryan Rathje said. "The MAC teams are St. Clair, Marine City, and Marysville. St. Clair plays up in the MAC white division and they are very tough and physical and scrappy. All the teams can defend and points will be at a premium. There are plenty of rivalry teams and this should be a very competitive district."
The team that emerges from the district moves on to Imlay City, where a regional semifinal matchup with the winner of the Croswell-Lexington district looms Tuesday, March 5.
Among other local teams, Lutheran North plays in the Class B Clawson district and has a matchup with Pontiac Notre Dame Prep tonight.
In Class C, New Haven plays Harper Woods in the Mount Clemens district tonight while Memphis faces Dryden that tonight at Sandusky. Both the Rockets and Yellowjackets struggled during the regular season.
Last Updated: 2/25/2013 3:55:52 PM EST