The Hammarskjold Vikings aren’t a very big basketball team. But oh can they run.
And they’re hungry too, a potentially lethal combination for the rest of the high school varsity girls circuit this fall.
They’ve got plenty of experience, with six players returning from last year’s squad that fell in the championship final to the always powerful St. Ignatius Falcons, who captured a third straight title.
A seventh, Megan Foster, spent the season on crutches, but returns for her Grade 12 year, eager to prove the Vikings are the team to beat in 2013.
Foster, who scored 12 points Friday in her return to the court, a 61-12 exhibition win over the St. Patrick Saints, said run-and-gun should be their bread and butter when regular season play kicks off next week.
“The team strength is probably speed and skill. I’m the tallest player there and I’m not even over six feet,” Foster said.
“That’s not going to be what we’re focusing on. We’re going to be focusing on playing to our strengths, which is moving the ball and penetrating and strong defence, moving onto a strong breakaway and passing the ball ahead.”
Experience is also key, said coach Bruno Corbin.
“If you look at numbers of kids coming back, and starters, we certainly have the most. But I never take anything for granted. You always get teams that come along and work hard and progress. So you have to be able to do the same or else they catch up to you.”
Corbin said there’s no secret to his game plan. He plans to use the aforementioned fast break to hopefully net the team most of its points.
“It’s the easy lay-up. We’d like to take those, but a balanced attack, looking inside all of the time. I think one of the things we’ve improved from last year is we’ve become a little bit better shooters from the outside. So that should help us get a better balance.”
Likely leading the way is standout Grade 11 guard Alissa Heiskanen, who has spent time with the provincial team and netted 22 in Friday’s opener at the Lakehead University Applebee’s senior basketball Tournament, an event that included all six local teams, plus squads from Fort Frances, Dryden, White Pines and Timmins.
Corbin said depth will be another factor.
“We have 10 girls and they can all play. That’s going to be the key. If we get into trouble, with fouls or injuries, we’ve got somebody we can pull off the bench who can replace them. So that’s going to help a lot,” he said.
Shannon McKitrick, another Vikings returnee, said there’s a lot to redeem from last season, but they’re ready.
“Our team has really gelled together. We have a really good team. We work really hard. We practice every day. We’re just going to push the ball and work hard. That’s what we do,” McKitrick said.
The tournament wraps up Saturday, with the championship game slated for 3 p.m. at the Thunderdome.
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