The North Branch girls basketball team had its undefeated season spoiled by three losses in a row, but they got right back on track, winning all three games last week.
First up, the Vikings traveled to Irondale and downed the Knights 63-60.
“This was a very good basketball game,” said coach Dan Schindler. “It was close the whole game and both teams shot the basketball very well. Irondale was really shooting the lights out making nine three-pointers in the first half to take a 34-32 halftime lead. North kept pace with Irondale’s scoring led by Courtney Selbitschka’s nine first half points and Annette Olson’s eight first half points.”
“At halftime we just talked about extending our defense and hoped Irondale wouldn’t continue to hit all those three-pointers. But Irondale kept on shooting and hit four more three’s in the second half. But for North Branch, Haley Huset matched each one making four of her own in the second half. At the end of the game it came down to the free throw line where NB won making 19-31 while Irondale was nine for 13.
“It was a fun game and girls from both sides played very well. This was a night where all our team members really gave us good minutes and we needed every one of them. I thought Mikayla Carlson, Taylor Gazda, Emily Trunk and Jessica Merchant all came in and gave us energy.
“Haley Huset led us with 24 points while Courtney Selbitschka added 16 and Sarah Lekson 13 points. Courtney made two very big free throws to give us a five point lead with five seconds left.”
Last Thursday the Vikings trounced Columbia Heights 73-32. Reflected coach Schindler:
“This was our first home game since December 14th, and I think we were ready to get back on our home court,” said Schindler. “Our good play from Irondale continued and we had a very good first half leading 42 to 10 at the break. We carried over that energy and really took it to Columbia Heights.
“Emily Trunk had a great half scoring eight points and getting some big steals. Sarah Lekson also shot the ball well and had 13 points at the break and a game high 26 points for the night.
“I thought the front of our press with Haley and Courtney was really active. When they can put pressure on and force turnovers they usually lead to easy baskets for us on the other end. They did a great job as Courtney had six steals while Haley had five assists. Sarah Lekson had a huge game with 26 points and 10 rebounds and Annette Olson added eight rebounds. I am hoping since we have many home games left that we can carry this effort over to those games.”
The Vikings hosted FAIR School last Saturday and overwhelmed the Falcons 86-15.
“FAIR is a charter school just starting a girls basketball program, and our girls just have much more experience than them,” said Schindler. “It was a nice game in the respect that many of our JV girls who never get much varsity playing time got most of it in this game.”
Coach added, “Our JV players all scored led by Morgen Coleman with 13 points and Sarah Davis with 10. Kora Amunrud had five points and Ashlee Bauer had four. Morgen Coleman led all re-bounders with 12. Those players work very hard in practice every night and usually don’t get their names in the paper. It was nice to see them play well and get extended minutes.”
The NB girls basketball team is tied for fifth in the North Suburban Conference with a 5-3 conference and 12-3 overall record. The Vikings will host the Spring Lake Park Panthers at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, before hosting the St. Croix Preparatory Academy Lions at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29.