12/13/2012 9:39:00 AM Vikings move to 4-0 after three drubbings
By JEFF NORTON
North Branch 63, St. Paul Harding 14 North Branch 68, Minneapolis Patrick Henry 14 If only the North Suburban Conference was like this for the North Branch girls basketball team. The Vikings had two games last week that were basically warm ups for the rest of the season.
They hosted Harding and traveled to Henry for two laughable games that allowed the Vikings to empty their bench early. Head Coach Dan Schindler said his preference is to play these two games spread out a bit to work on different things, but having them within three days of each other this year was just a scheduling gaffe. Against Harding on Tuesday, Dec. 4, the Vikings took a 36-10 halftime lead before cruising to a 63-14 victory over the Knights. Haley Huset scored 11 points, Annette Olson and Sarah Lekson each had 10 and Taylor Gazda and Jessica Merchant chipped in eight each. In the Henry game on Thursday, Dec. 6, the Vikings weren’t far off from pitching a shutout in the first half. They went up 38-3 by the halftime buzzer en route to a 68-14 victory. In that win, Lekson had 17 points, Courtney Selbitschka had 15 points and nine other Vikings scored points. “We had a couple of games that we controlled from start to finish. In these games we are looking for our players to gain some confidence and work on minimizing their mistakes,” Schindler explained.
“We had nice balanced scoring, and we were able to play everyone considerable minutes and that will help our newcomers later in the season when they are called on.” North Branch 68, Duluth Denfeld 38 Schindler’s sweater will continue to get grungy and dirty as the Vikings cranked out another big win, but this time over a section opponent which will be relevant this year. Schindler doesn’t change his game day sweater as long as the Vikings are winning. If things continue like this, it’s going to be a whole different hue of red by the end of the year. The Vikings jumped out to a 30-20 lead in the opening half, which pleased Schindler. “It’s always a tough place to play after a long bus ride, and I thought we really started the game fast,” he said. Huset was the catalyst for the Vikings, scoring 16 first half points for North Branch. The junior ended up with a game-high 24 points on the afternoon.
“Our good defense makes our offense better as we were able to get either a loose ball or long rebound and turn that into transition points,” Schindler said. In the second half, the Hunters never seriously threatened the Vikings as the lead continued, eventually settling in near 30 points, which was the margin of victory for North Branch. After Huset’s 24, Lekson had 20 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Selbitschka added seven points and seven assists. “Sarah [Lekson] has the most experience of all our players and she is a very smart player on the court,” Schindler explained. “She ran the floor well and did a nice job on both ends, including some really nice passes. Overall it was a really nice TEAM win over another section team.” The win was even more impressive given the fact that Denfeld has already defeated Hermantown this season, one of the favorites in Section 7AAA. But, Schindler knows some of the real tests are soon to begin, starting with conference rival St. Francis on Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:15. The match up with be a battle of who can execute their game plan better. North Branch will enter the game allowing an average of just 21.6 points per game while the Saints will come in averaging 58.2 points per game, despite their 1-4 record. They’ve scored over 74 points in their last two contests. “It will be a very tough conference game with St. Francis on Friday night,” Schindler said. “They always play us very tough and last year we had a great game with them winning in three overtimes. They will shoot a lot of three pointers and if they are on can score a lot of points.”