NB falls by five in title game
The North Branch boys basketball team traveled to South St. Paul for a four-team holiday tournament over the weekend and came away with a second-place finish.
On Friday, the Vikings went up against the home team and put up big points to win 83-43.
Head coach David Anderson said his squad started strong from the get-go, and other than South St. Paul coming within single digits toward the end of the first half, the Vikings maintained a resounding lead.
Senior Travis Van Elsberg commanded the offense with 25 points and four assists. The guard also recorded three steals. Senior Dillon Harms put up 12 points, while junior Kyle Burnside tallied 10 points and seven rebounds.
In the matchup the following evening, North Branch faced Prescott, Wis., for the title.
Anderson said the out-of-state squad was one of the toughest the Vikings encountered this season, and it was back and forth from the start.
“They hit their first five shots, four of them were threes,” Anderson said. “But we stuck with them and neither team had more than a four-point lead in the first half — it was a battle.”
In the final minutes of the game, the Vikings trailed by just one point, but were unable to find the bottom of the net. Prescott pulled away when North Branch was forced to foul, giving Prescott a 69-64 win for first place.
“We played really well, we didn’t have a ton of turnovers and did a good job of putting pressure on them,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t say we lacked anything, we just cooled off and had a hard time hitting shots in the second half.”
Van Elsberg and Burnside both earned 17 points and six rebounds, while Van Elsberg also recorded six steals and four assists. Junior Matt Blomquist tallied eight points, four assists, five rebounds and three steals while senior Dylan Dahle put up eight points and six assists. Harms added seven points.
Van Elsberg and senior Brandon Thauwald both earned all-tournament team honors. While Thauwald doesn’t jump out in statistics, Anderson said the senior is an invaluable member of the Vikings team.
“He’s not always going to stand out in stats but is the anchor of the defense and the emotional leader on the court,” Anderson said. “He always has the toughest assignments on the inside defensively and is just a hustle player.”
Thauwald was a key part of the defensive effort that held Prescott’s star player, junior Clay Seifert, to just six points in the second half.
As for the North Branch squad, Anderson said he was pleased overall with the competition seen in South St. Paul over the holiday break.
“We looked at both games as kind of an opportunity to ‘right the ship’ because there have been a lot of single-digit games where we were right there this season,” he said.
North Branch is 3-8 this season and has lost five games this season by five or fewer points.
The Vikings hit the road next Tuesday for a conference matchup at 7:15 p.m. at Buffalo.