HIBBING — If the Hibbing Community College women’s basketball team wants to host the Region XIII Tournament, one obstacle stands in their way — Itasca.
The Cardinals, who are 14-1 in the Northern Division aren’t guaranteed anything unless they get a win over the Vikings.
Hibbing will try to put a successful cap on its regular season when the Cardinals travel to Grand Rapids for a 1 p.m., MCAC Northern Division contest against the Vikings today.
Hibbing doesn’t have time to think about the future. It must focus on the present.
“This would permit us the ability to host, and that would be a wonderful advantage and opportunity going into the regional tournament,” Hibbing coach Kate Brau said. “The reason why we want to win this contest is so we can win the conference. We have the opportunity to do that.
“This game is important.”
Brau will emphasize that before tip-off, and hopefully, it sinks in.
“We want to end the regular season on a good note,” Brau said. “This game is not being taken lightly. We have seen them a combined three times, including scrimmages, so we’re familiar with their program.
“We will do everything that we can, and we should be as prepared as possible.”
The Cardinals have beaten Itasca twice this season, once by around 40, then by 20.
“That first game was right before break where people have the flu, it’s during final-exam week and right before Christmas,” Brau said. “That was a different story. They came here in January, and we beat them 20.
“They had improved at that point, and they competed hard against us. These are things that we can’t forget, that teams continuously improve.”
When the game begins, Hibbing will have to pay attention to Giana Roberts, who does most of the scoring for the Vikings.
“She’s a strong scorer for them,” Brau said. “This is going to be her last game as a sophomore, so I’m sure she’s going to try and go out with fire.”
Emily Franz, a 6-foot-2-inch center, could also give the Cardinals fits.
“She had 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds the last time we played them,” Brau said. “She’s a competitor. We have tasks to do, not only on the perimeter, but also in the paint.”
The only question is if Itasca can improve on that 20-point loss the last time the two teams met.
Brau knows that anything can happen, so she’ll be pulling out all of the stops.
“We slowed ourselves, and we have been experiencing that lately,” Brau said. “We’ve had these kind of lulls where we’re not getting the kind of touches we need in the offensive end, and getting lots of people involved.
“When shots don’t fall on the offensive end, at times it impacts our defense. We need to make sure that we start out on-point defensively. That’s what will generate our offense.”
To do that, Hibbing must stick to its defensively philosophies.
“We have to make sure that we’re rebounding the ball,” Brau said. “On the offensive end, and I’m sure they will play a 2-3 defense, we have to keep the ball moving, get a lot of touches.
“It can’t be one pass and a shot. It can’t be one pass and a drive. That does nothing to make the zone move from side-to-side. That has to be emphasized with our program. When we do move the ball, great things happen.”