POWERS - The North Central Jets are still reeling from their 70-68 defeat of the Bark River-Harris Broncos Friday night which earned them a district championship. At practice over the weekend, they went over some of the things they did well. Then, they turned their focus to the Superior Central Cougars.
During the regular season, the Jets gave the Cougars their biggest fight of the year. Superior Central escaped with a 45-44 victory.
One week later, they were narrowly beaten by the Forest Park Trojans 46-44 - another powerhouse team in this regional tournament.
"At least we know we can take it to them," said Jets coach Nikki Laurila. "We did a great defensive job in both of those games. Offensively, we weren't quite there yet. But I think we have a great shot against both of those teams."
Superior Central dropped the Jets twice this season. Then again, so did Bark River-Harris.
"It's hard to beat a team three times," she said. "We certainly have that going for us."
North Central will take on the Cougars tonight at Kingsford. The winner will take on the winner of the Lake Linden-Hubbell/Forest Park matchup, which will also be played tonight.
Laurila said that part of the reason they had success against the favored Broncos Friday night was because they knew what BR-H intended to do, and they returned the favor.
"That win was big for us," she said. "I knew what they wanted to do to us, but we did it to them. We broke their press, and we put up a lot of points right away. We were patient, passed the ball well, and we dictated the tempo."
She added that the team's confidence has increased more and more as the year has progressed.
"I think they're really starting to believe in themselves," she said. "Once you've started peaking and playing well, it only gets better."
If that is the case, then what can be said about the Superior Central Cougars that they haven't already stated out on the court this season?
With a flawless 23-0 record, they have to be about as confident as it gets.
"I think our confidence is up right now," said Cougars coach Greg Trowbridge. "We've played pretty well in districts. We just have to stay focused on what we need to do."
Although they've defeated the Jets twice, the last thing they're going to do is overlook anyone at this stage of the game.
"I think it's going to be a pretty good ball game," Trowbridge said. "We just have to play good ball. North Central is up and down and right now, they're up. They're shooting well, they're big and aggressive. It's not going to be an easy game."
He said that the scariest part about the Jets is their shooting as of late.
"Both of the Wells girls have impressed me," he added. "They have size inside, and the Rochon twins have quickness. I don't take them lightly."
Trowbridge said that his team's balance on the offensive end has made him feel a bit more at ease at this point in the year.
"We don't rely too much on one player," he said. "We have Vanessa (Freberg), and she's been a standout, but Teslyn (Tyner) can bury the three and Brooke (Pasanen) and Kelsey (Coleman) have stepped up as well. I can also expect things from my bench so I'm pretty confident in that sense."
Last year, the Cougars faced disappointment in the regional tournament. They faced off against Forest Park, and one bad game ended their run.
"I think this year will be different," Trowbridge said. "We're older, more confident, and we have more experience. We're going to take it to them."