Vikings follow up long break with big win

Basketball boys defeat Big Lake  for first conference win

Following a 12-day break since taking second at the South St. Paul holiday tournament on Dec. 28, the North Branch basketball boys were back in action Friday night.

The Vikings hosted Big Lake and pulled out a 76-73 win over the Mississippi Eight Conference rival, who is 9-4 this season.

North Branch led with 30 seconds to go at the end of the first half, but a converted turnover for two points and a made desperation 3-pointer put the Hornets up one point at the half, 41-40.

Head coach David Anderson said although he felt Big Lake was the best competition they’ve faced this season, that his squad was the better team.

“I just told them at halftime not to overthink it,” Anderson said. “That if we play in the second half like we did in the first, it would end up working out.”

That it did.

Four Vikings were in double digits on the night, led by senior Dylan Dahle with 20 points, followed by senior Travis Van Elsberg with 19 points. Junior Matt Blomquist recorded 11 points while senior Dillon Harms contributed 10 points. Senior Brandon Thauwald added five points.

Defensively, North Branch contained two of the top players in the state.

Senior Michael Doperalski is fourth in the state in 3-pointers made (38), 10th in assists (58) and third in steals (44) so far this season. He scored 18 points on Friday. Senior forward Sam Dokkebakken scored just four points on the night. He ranks among the state’s best as fourth in blocks (39) and fifth in rebounds (122).

“Defensively we did a really good job,” Anderson said. “In the best scenario in my head I didn’t think we’d hold Dokkebakken to four points, but they did it.”

The win puts the Vikings at 4-8 overall and gives North Branch their first Mississippi Eight Conference win.

North Branch also faced Monticello on the road Tuesday and next host Cambridge-Isanti at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16.

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