Losing a primetime player is tough on any team.
The North Branch girls basketball team lost two of three games played last week, feeling the loss of important starter Sarah Lekson
Lekson, who suffered an injury eight games ago, is hoping to be ready to come back not only for the last week of the season, but be there to help the Vikings make a run for state in the section playoffs.
Totino-Grace came to North Branch and though the home team was up by one (29-28) at the half, the exciting game ended with the Eagles winning by one in the final second.
“This was a very good game and very tough loss for our team,” coach Dan Schindler said. “Totino Grace certainly gives us some matchup problems having two big post players.”
The coach commended his team’s effort in the game.
“I felt we really played a very good first half,”
he said. “Haley Huset hit a couple big three-pointers for us, and we played pretty good defense on all of Totino’s good athletes.”
The Vikings battled back at the end, but the push wasn’t enough to secure a victory.
“The second half was close, but Totino-Grace did take a eight point lead with three minutes left,”
Schindler said. “But Annette Olson and Courtney Selbitschka both hit three-pointers and Haley Huset made two big free throws with 6.7 seconds left to give North Branch a 49-48 lead.”
He added, “Totino Grace dribbled the ball up the court and we did a good job of contesting the dribbler and she lost the ball with about three seconds left. But, as the ball was rolling through the lane, another Totino player flicked it to another Totino player on the baseline who shot it at the buzzer and it was nothing but net, to give Totino a 50-49 win.”
Schindler said consistency is key for winning.
“I give our girls credit for really fighting back,” he said. “We never quit. We just need to be more consistent offensively for the whole game.”
Last Friday, the Vikings hosted and fell 71-55 to rival Chisago Lakes Area.
“Chisago Lakes is just a tough match up for us right now as they do a great job with their big girls on the inside,” Schindler said. “They won the matchup of paint points and out-rebounded us. Usually, the team that does that wins.”
The team traveled to Proctor and outscored the Rails 76-51 last Saturday.
“I was worried we would be tired playing back to back and the third game of the week, but we came out with energy and jumped out to a 11-2 lead,” Schindler said.
Fast hands led to easy buckets for the Vikings.
“We were able to pressure them and get some steals which we changed into some easy baskets for us,” Schindler said. “We led 40-24 at halftime.”
The coach commended the total team effort his players exhibited.
“I thought Emily Trunk had her best offensive game of the year,” he said. “I also thought Jessica Merchant played well. Freshman Morgen Coleman also chipped in. Morgen is very athletic and she keeps getting better every game. It was nice to get back on the winning track after two tough losses.”
The North Branch girls basketball team is fifth in the North Suburban Conference with a 7-6 conference and 16-6 overall record. The Vikings will host the Fridley Tigers (1-20) at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 15 with the boys game versus Fridley at 5:45 p.m. Both the boys and girls games will be broadcast on FM 95.9 WLKX. The team will then host the Irondale Knights (8-14) at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 19.