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February 20, 2013

Hockey and hoops teams set to drop puck, tip ball on 2013 postseason

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Berkley coach Jeff Fleming talks things over with his guys during a recent practice. The Bears open the D-1 playoffs against Grosse Pointe North.

BERKLEY — Some would shy away from it, and maybe even vent some frustration at the reality it could possibly bring about.

Jeff Fleming isn’t about to do either.

With the 2013 hockey postseason set to begin shortly, Fleming and his Berkley-Ferndale Unified squad are rolling up their sleeves for what the coach called “a great challenge.”

“We’re absolutely looking forward to it,” Fleming said of his team’s pre-regional date with Grosse Pointe North. “We have a few games left to get ready, but what it boils down to is the fact you play 25 games to prepare for one. Hopefully, you’ve done everything you can to be ready for that one game.”

The Unified squad drops the puck with North at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser.

North, which lost in last season’s Division 1 championship game, was 14-8-0 at press time.

Berkley, the Oakland Activities Association White Division champ, was 17-5-0.

“We’ve got to show up to play, and be ready to battle a top program,” Fleming said simply. “We’re going to need our best game of the season. … They are a deep team with a good defense and some talented forwards. We have to be ready for a battle.”

Should Berkley pull the upset against North, the guys would face either St. Clair Shores Unified or the University of Detroit Jesuit in a 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28 semifinal.

The regional championship is set for March 2 at the Troy Sports Center.

A time had not been determined.

While he knows his guys face an up-hill battle, Fleming was hardly conceding defeat, saying a quick start and some confidence could go a long way.

“You just can’t give a team like that an advantage in any regard,” he said of starting the game well. “We’re going to need 51 minutes of good hockey, including those few shifts where you get a good bounce or something. But I feel our guys will be ready to go.”
 

Jump ball
The girls basketball tournament is also set to get going, and for Berkley coach Jordan Gruppen, that means hammering home an old, but essential, cliché.

“It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season,” he said last week.

The Bears open the Class A district with a 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25 game against Oak Park High at Royal Oak High.

Berkley is 2-0 against Oak Park this winter, both in convincing fashion.

“But they’ve been improving all year, and, like I said, it’s tough to beat the same team three times in one year. We just have to do what we’ve been doing. If we execute on offense and play the defense we are capable of, we’ll be all right.”

Berkley was 9-7 at press time.

Should the Bears get past Oak Park, Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup, a 14-2 team expected to challenge for a Class A title, will be waiting in the semifinals, set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

“You’d have to look forward to that possibility,” Gruppen said. “To be the best, you have to beat the best, right? I think it’d be a great atmosphere, should we play Lathrup. We’d be the underdog with nothing to lose. It’d be fun.”

Ferndale High is set to take part in the Class B tourney, opening at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25 against Detroit Old Redford at Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy.

The Eagles, 13-2 at press time, still had a chance to clinch the OAA Blue Division.

The district semi is set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27 against Hazel Park High.

The final is March 1 with a time still to be determined.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.