Vikings seek revenge in second matchup
As they enter the homestretch of the 2013-14 regular season, the North Branch basketball girls are fighting for a .500 record. The Vikings faced Princeton twice in the past week while making up a weather-related game postponement.
During last Tuesday’s matchup at home against the Tigers, North Branch trailed 31-26 at halftime, but fought back in the second to take a 60-56 lead toward the end of the second half. Princeton drained a 3-pointer, then visited the free-throw line following a series of questionable calls to tie things up at 63 and send the game to overtime.
But foul trouble would prove too much for the Vikings to overcome, as senior Haley Huset, junior Taylor Gazda and sophomore Morgen Coleman left the game with five fouls before their squad could find a groove. North Branch lost 75-65.
Sophomore Courtney Selbitschka led the Vikings with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds to accompany five steals. Coleman recorded 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals while Gazda earned nine points, six rebounds, one block and a steal. Huset added seven points while sophomore Kalley Hartmann and senior Mikayla Carlson each contributed six points.
Head coach Jerome Huselid said it was a game his girls wanted back.
“We had a hard time scoring without those three starters,” Huselid said. “We struggled offensively and didn’t do much defensively. But it shouldn’t have had to go to overtime, we should have won it in regulation.”
In the makeup game on Saturday on Princeton’s homecourt, the Vikings came out aggressive and led by as much as 14 points in the first half, led 36-28 at the break and held on in the second for a 65-60 victory.
“We were ready to play, and the girls were motivated to get that win they should have had at home,” Huselid said. “We played well. Princeton has a lot of good shooters and ball players, but we did a better job of not letting them drive — they have a strong dribble drive, but we matched them well in zone, moved our feet better, pressured more and rebounded better.”
Huset put forth a high-scoring effort with 27 points as well as five rebounds. Selbitschka earned her second double-double of the week with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Coleman also claimed two double-digit categories with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Gazda put up 11 points and five rebounds while Carlson and senior Kora Amunrud hit the boards with six and five rebounds, respectively.
Huselid said his team was pleased with the road win.
“They were excited, we were all excited,” Huselid said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games this year, so this was pretty enjoyable.”
Of North Branch’s 12 losses, the average losing margin equals just over a three-possession game: 10.25 points. Last season, the Vikings average losing margin was 19 points.
The Vikings are 11-12 overall, 3-8 in the Mississippi 8 Conference and 2-4 in Section 7AAA. The squad currently sits at the sixth seed for post-season play with Chisago Lakes and Grand Rapids claiming the top two spots.
North Branch played Cambridge-Isanti on Tuesday night, then hosts Chisago Lakes in a rescheduled game on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:15 p.m. The Vikings play their last regular-season game at 7:15 p.m. the next day at Big Lake.