The Viking girls basketball team managed to adjust to the loss of one of its leading scorers and rebounders — one, Sarah Lekson — and came out victorious in a pair of games last week.
First up the team dominated visiting St. Croix Preparatory Academy to earn a 61-22 victory.
“Our press worked great against them, and we were able to get some easy baskets,” said coach Dan Schindler. “We had good energy, and it was a game we were able to use many combinations. Haley Huset led us with 17 points, followed by Courtney Selbitschka with 13 points.”
On Thursday the Vikings squared up against conference rival St. Francis in an exciting road game. Faced with an 18-point deficit at the half, the girls won 52-48 in classic comeback fashion.
“It seems every time we play St. Francis they are great games,” Schindler pointed out. “We scored the first four points of the game, but then St. Francis went on a 25-3 run to lead at one point 25 to 7. It wasn’t that we were playing terrible, we just could not make a shot. We missed many easy shots in the first half (while) St. Francis was bombing away making five three-pointers to extend their lead.”
“We also got in some foul trouble and trailed at halftime 31-18. At halftime we talked about just chipping away at the lead and playing good defense to see if we could get back in the game. And that is exactly what we did.
“North Branch finally got their first lead with 2:40 second in the game when Haley Huset sank two free throws to make the score 46-45. After St. Francis regained the lead with two free throws of their own Jessica Merchant was fouled and made two free throws to put North Branch ahead again. North Branch was able to keep the lead this time, and Haley Huset sealed the victory with two more free throws.
“It was a great come-back win for us. I give the girls a lot of credit as they kept working and never gave up. For North Branch, Haley Huset led us with 15 points and Courtney Selbitschka added 10 points. I thought Jessica Merchant had a great second half making some key shots for us.
“Also, Morgen Coleman and Mikayla Carlson really gave us some great energy on the defensive end of the floor. Annette Olson led rebounding with 11 rebounds and had some great outlet passes on our fast break the second half.
“It was a great team win as everyone contributed.”
The North Branch girls basketball team is tied for fourth with Chisago Lakes in the North Suburban Conference with a 7-4 record. The Vikings, with a 15-4 overall record, will host the Chisago Lakes Area Wildcats (12-7) at 5:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, while the boys game follows at 7:15 p.m. Both games are scheduled to be broadcast on FM 95.9 WLKX. The girls will then do battle against the 6-14 Rails in Proctor at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, followed by a trip to Princeton to face the 10-9 Tigers at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12.