Viking girls win two of three at tourney

By Victoria Dahlin—

Winning two out of three close games made the North Branch girls basketball team consolation winners in the Simley Holiday Tournament that took place Dec. 27-29.

It was a tale of two halves in the game against St. Paul Johnson. The Vikings were up 37-26 at the end of the first half, but couldn’t keep up with the quick athletic Governors and slipped behind to lose 58-54.

“We ran our offense and were doing a great job of moving the basketball to the open person,” said Coach Schindler. “Our shots were falling and we took care of the basketball having only three first half turnovers. I was really pleased with our first half of basketball. I think it was the best of the season. The problem is that we weren’t able to duplicate that in the second half.

“One factor was that our point guard, Haley Huset, got hurt and wasn’t able to play. That’s part of the game, but St. Paul really turned up the pressure and forced us into 13 second half turnovers. We didn’t have the people we needed to step up their game and really want the ball. It was a tough loss, but I think a very good learning experience for us. We can fix the mistakes we made and it should make us better,” offered Schindler.

Vikings prevail

Next, North Branch faced St. Croix Lutheran and fought it out in an exciting back and forth game. The Vikings led by four at the half, but trailed by as many as five in the second half, prevailing to win 42-38.

“We played a good game, but just struggled shooting the basketball,” said Coach Schindler. “We shot less than 25 percent for the game and that usually means a loss. But we were able to hit some key free throws down the stretch. Kallie Grote and Jessica Merchant both stepped up to the line when we trailed and made free throws. I thought it was a real nice game for Jessica Merchant and Emily Trunk. They gave us some real energy off the bench. Our goal each game is to always win the free throw line and it won the game for us against St. Croix Lutheran. We really had nice team balance in the scoring column,” Schindler explained.

Conquering the Cougars

In the last game, after being behind 26-21 at halftime against St. Paul Como Park, North Branch put up a tough fight to shut down the Cougars and defeat them 40-34.

“The third game in three days is always hard to play,” said Coach Schindler. “Both teams’ legs seemed a little tired and we had the task of trying to stop a really quick penetrating point guard. We made a few halftime adjustments, and I was really pleased with our defensive effort the second half. We held their point guard scoreless and their team to only eight second half points. We also gave away too many offensive boards the first half and did a much better job rebounding the second half.

“Offensively I thought Kallie Grote had a nice game. Eighth grader Courtney Selbitschka and junior Annette Olson gave us some good minutes and helped us with the second half comeback. Overall it was a real good tournament for us as we played in three close games and found a way to come away with a couple of wins.”

Simley Tournament

NB vs. St. Paul Central

Sarah Lekson 13 pts, 10 rebounds

Kallie Grote 10 pts

Erin Reber 10 pts

Haley Huset 8 pts

Annette Olson 4 pts, 8 rebounds

Emily Trunk 3 pts

Cassedy Coleman 2 pts

Jessica Merchant 2 pts

Courtney Selbitschka 2 pts

NB vs. St. Croix Lutheran

Kallie Grote 8 pts

Sarah Lekson 7 pts, 11 rebounds

Haley Huset 6 pts, 5 steals

Erin Reber 6 pts

Jessica Merchant 6 pts

Emily Trunk 4 pts

Annette Olson 3 pts, 10 rebounds

Cassedy Coleman 2 pts

NB vs. St. Paul Como Park

Kallie Grote 13 pts

Emily Trunk 4 pts

Cassedy Coleman 4 pts

Annette Olson 4 pts

Courtney Selbitschka 4 pts

Haley Huset 3 pts

Sarah Lekson 3 pts

Erin Reber 3 pts

Jessica Merchant 2 pts

The North Branch girls basketball team has a 7-2 overall and 0-1 North Suburban Conference record. The Vikings will host the 3-6 St. Francis Fighting Saints at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6 before hosting the #7 state-ranked Chisago Lakes Area Wildcats (7-2) at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Jan. 10, following the North Branch boys basketball game which begins at 5:45 p.m. and a performance by the Vikettes dance team.

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