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Prep Hoops Preview: Dunham takes over Lady Vikings after leading boys last year

November 26, 2012
By PAUL PETERSON , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

BARAGA - The Baraga High School girls basketball team will have a new coach, well, sort off, to lead it this season.

Mariah Dunham, who was the BHS boys coach a year ago, replaces Tammy Crittenden this season.

"It's a little different situation, but I know all the kids," said Dunham, a former standout at Northern Michigan University. "I think we have the talent to have a really good year."

Article Photos

2012-13 Baraga Lady Vikings: (back row from left) coach Mariah Dunham, Katie Schjoth, Rebecca Larson, Taryn Nurmela and Melissa Putala; (front from left) Jenna Heikkinen, Taylor Swanson, Brittany Nieskes, Shannon Fish and Tori Rasanen (Paul Peterson photo)

A total of six letterwinners are back for the Lady Vikings, who captured the district tournament crown last winter.

"We have a good mix of talent, with some interchangeable players," Dunham said. "By that, I mean we can alter our offense .... either go with a running game or slow it down and use a power game inside."

The returning veterans include seniors Katie Schjoth, Shannon Fish and Brittany Nieskes and juniors Jenna Heikkinen, Rebecca Larson and Taryn Numela.

Fact Box

Baraga girls

2012-13 Schedule

Nov. 27 - At Houghton, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 4 - Dollar Bay, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 7 - At Ontonagon, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 11 - At Chassell, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 14 - L'Anse, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 17 - Ewen-TC, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 18 - At Hancock, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 4 - Watersmeet, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 8 - At LL-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 11 - At Calumet, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 18 - Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 21 - At Dollar Bay, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 24 - At L'Anse, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 28 - Chassell, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 31 - At Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 4 - Forest Park, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 7 - LL-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 11 - At Ewen-Trout Creek, 7 p.m.

Feb. 14 - Ontonagon, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 18 - Calumet, 7:20 p.m.

Nieskes will likely be the point guard, with Heikkinen at the shooting guard.

Both are good shooters with three-point range, according to their coach.

"Those two are probably our two best outside threats," Dunham said. "But we do have some other kids who can shoot the 3s."

Schjoth, also a good rebounder, will be the third guard in Baraga's three-guard starting lineup.

Fish and Larson, both around 5-foot-8, will be up front. The 5-7 Nurmela is also in the mix up front with Rebecca Larsen and Tori Rasanen.

Taylor Swanson, Taylor Swanson and Melissa Putala are other players who figure to play a lot.

"We plan on using a lot of pressure on defense," Dunham said. "So, we're going to be playing a lot of kids to stay fresh."

The new Purple and Gold coach likes the attitude of her team.

"They've had some success, starting with winning the districts last season," she said. "There's nothing like going into a season with some confidence."

As for the Copper Country Conference, Dunham likes her team's chances.

"We know that Lake Linden-Hubbell has some talented players and Ontonagon is always going to be a threat," she said. "But our chances (at winning the CCC) are as good as anyone."

The Lady Vikings open the season by traveling to Houghton - a rugged test in anyone's book.

But Dunham welcomes the chance to play the perennially strong Gremlins.

"It's a good test for us," she said. "You know that Houghton is going to play a pressure defense and they don't lose many games on their homecourt."



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