Viking girls finally meet their match, breaks winning streak

Sarah Lekson was named most valuable player of the Wood City Tournament Dec. 27-28 in Cloquet. Photo by Victoria Dahlin
Sarah Lekson was named most valuable player of the Wood City Tournament Dec. 27-28 in Cloquet. Photo by Victoria Dahlin

When the North Branch girls basketball team went to neighboring rival Chisago Lakes Area last Friday, the Wildcats put an end to the Vikings’ undefeated (9-0) season.

Chisago Lakes jumped out to a 10-0 start that North Branch couldn’t make up for and fell in the end 58-44.

Said coach Dan Schindler:

“I give Chisago Lakes all the credit. They seemed to have all the energy and really took it to us in the first half. After we settled down a bit we were never able to get anything going offensively. We got some good shots, but didn’t make them and Chisago was on fire shooting, as it seemed like they made every shot they took.

“We hadn’t been behind very much this year, and I am hoping we learned from this game and will be better prepared next time. When you get down 12-14 points you have to be patient and chip away. It seemed we wanted to get all the points back in a few possessions and that just doesn’t work.

“So overall it just wasn’t a good game for us. I am not worried. We will bounce back. We need to learn from this and move on.

“Haley Huset led the Vikings with 11 points. I did think freshman Morgen Coleman came in the second half and gave us some very good minutes. Morgan gave us some energy we seemed to be lacking the first half.”


Success at holiday tourney

The Vikings won both their games to earn first place at the Wood City Invitational at Cloquet Dec. 27-28. Sarah Lekson, Annette Olson and Huset were named to the All-Tournament team. Lekson was also named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

In the first game NB played Browerville and came away with a 66-52 win.

“I thought our bench really played well and was the difference in the game,” recalled coach Schindler. “Mikayla Carlson had her best offensive game and ended with 10 points. Emily Trunk and Jessica Merchant also really stepped up for us and had seven and six points, respectively. If we can get that good production from our bench we will be a very good team. For the game Haley Huset led us with 15 points and Courtney Selbitschka added 11. Sarah Lekson led us with five assists while Annette Olson grabbed 14 rebounds. It was a nice team effort and got us to the championship game versus Bloomington Jefferson.”

North Branch then defeated Bloomington Jefferson 53-49, a game that Schindler remembers well:

“I thought the real key to the game was Sarah Lekson and her play in the second half. Sarah started the second half with two baskets inside and was fouled on both and gave us a quick six points and really set the tone for the second half. She also really played some great defense, and the whole team picked up on her play.

“Down the stretch we won the game the way I like to, on the free throw line. Bloomington Jefferson only made one free throw the second half while NB made nine.

“We also had really nice balance scoring led by Courtney Selbitschka with 11, and Annette Olson and Haley Huset each with 10. Again I thought our bench players, Jessica Merchant, Taylor Gazda, Mikayla Carlson and Morgen Coleman, all came in and gave us some very important mintues.

“Our second half team defense was really good as we held them to only 16 second half points. We have had a great start to the season and our team depth has been a big part of it.”

On Dec. 21, the North Branch girls basketball team brought home a 62-40 victory over Fridley.

“Our press really gave them some trouble, and we were able to play up-tempo and get some easy baskets,” Schindler explained. “Sarah Lekson was scoring inside while Courtney Selbitschka was getting easy baskets from the press. For the game Sarah had 21 points and Courtney had 18.”

The North Branch girls basketball team is tied for third in the North Suburban Conference with a 3-1 conference and 9-1 overall record. The Vikings will travel to Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park to face the No. 9 state ranked Red Knights at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, before traveling to Irondale High School in New Brighton to face the Knights at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15.

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