Vikings fall in close games—
In the two-point home loss against Mahtomedi, the Vikings trailed 35-20 at the half but turned things around for a near comeback win by going on a 13-1 run late in the game.
With 3:16 to go in the game, senior Travis Van Elsberg drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to bring the Vikings within single digits, 49-41. Strong defensive pressure among the Viking guards and defensive rebounding by junior Kyle Burnside held the Mahtomedi offense at bay.
Senior guard Dylan Dahle swished a long jumper from the right baseline, then forced a turnover on the defensive end, resulting in a layup for Dahle to bring North Branch within four points at 49-45.
Van Elsberg caused another Zephyr turnover with less than a minute to go but was fouled on the fast break. The guard made one of two free throws to make it a one-possession ball game at 49-46. North Branch was forced to foul with 28 seconds remaining, senior Dillon Harms grabbed the rebound, brought the ball up, kicked it to Van Elsberg, who reversed the ball to a waiting Dahle on the left wing for a long field goal. Dahle was fouled on the shot, and sank both free throws to make it a 49-48 game with 13 seconds left.
Harms committed a foul to put Mahtomedi on the line again, where the Zephyr made one of two shots to extend their lead to 50-48.
Following a North Branch timeout, Harms brought the ball up with nine seconds remaining. He hit Van Elsberg, who rolled off a screen on the left wing, but was partially blocked with contact from defenders both in front and behind, ending the home game in a loss.
Dahle led in scoring with 17 points, while Van Elsberg followed with 12 points. Junior Matt Blomquist added nine points. Burnside recorded 10 rebounds.
In the 67-64 loss to Hermantown, Blomquist, Van Elsberg and Dahle all led the offense with 11 points each. Despite the numerous offensive threats, the squad committed 18 turnovers.
Last week’s games put North Branch at 2-5 this season as the Vikings enter the thick of conference play with a road game at Chisago Lakes on Tuesday night and a 7:15 p.m. game at Cambridge-Isanti on Thursday, Dec. 19.