Early season woes continue for Vikings basketball team

 Though the team keeps putting up a valiant fight, the North Branch boys basketball team has yet to record a win this season.

On Dec. 11, the team traveled to Simley and fell 60-57 to the Spartans.

“This game was almost a mirror image of the game we just played with Concordia Academy,” coach David Anderson said. “Simley came out on fire and hit 10 of their first 12 shots, including three for three from three-point range.

He added, “They jumped out to a 30-7 lead in the first nine minutes of the game and were poised to blow it wide open. However, our guys responded on the defensive end of the floor and held Simley to just six points over the final nine minutes of the first half, while we slowly chipped away at their lead.”

The second half was a back-and-forth battle.

“Heading into the locker room down just five felt great, and our guys continued our run and jumped into the lead in the first couple minutes of the second half,” Anderson said. “The game went back and forth from there, and finally at the end of the game, we were poised to get the ball back with 20 seconds, down one, when a call didn’t go our way.”

The comeback effort was valiant, but it wasn’t enough to secure victory.

“After Simley hit two free throws to go up three, we drew up a good last second play to get Matt Blomquist a three for the tie, but it fell just short and we lost another tough one on the road.”

Anderson noted Simley beat his team by 55 points a year ago, so his players are showing marked improvement.

Last Thursday, the Vikings hosted Hermantown and were downed 58-34.

“Tonight was a tale of two halves,” Anderson said. “In the first half, our guys played great defense and did everything to near perfection, jumping out to a 20-12 lead. Hermantown is a great team, though, and they got on a role, too, in the first half, scoring on four straight possessions and taking a three-point lead heading into the locker room.” Dillon Harms really stepped up and played well for us in the first half, and Travis Van Elsberg did a very good job getting to the hoop and scoring easy buckets.”

The Viking performance in the second half did not mirror the execution showed in the first two quarters.

“When we came out in the second half we knew we would have to stave off a run from Hermantown,” Anderson said. They are an extremely disciplined team and move the ball with an unselfishness that you rarely see at the high school level.” Our second half defense wasn’t bad at all, and we held Hermantown to a season low 58 points. But on the other hand, our offense was very poor in the second half and we didn’t handle Hermantown’s ball pressure very well at all.”

The team traveled to Mahtomedi last Saturday and lost 63-39 to the Zephyrs in the team’s final game of the week.

The North Branch boys basketball team has a 0-5 overall record. The Vikings will travel to Fridley to face the Tigers at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 21.

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