12/20/2012 9:35:00 AM Vikings lose second close game
By JEFF NORTON
Concordia Academy 44, North Branch 42 The North Branch boys basketball team has two games on their ledger so far, and two very tough losses. Less than a week after an overtime loss to Metro Career Tech Academy, the Vikings lost by two points when a buzzer beater went off the mark. “This was a tough loss in a very hard fought game,” Head Coach David Anderson said. Concordia got the jump on the Vikings in the first half, racing out to a 17-4 lead in the first nine minutes. After digging themselves that monumental hole, the Vikings had to slowly get their way out of it. Anderson said assistant coach Gary Dreissig noticed a defensive adjustment the Vikes could make, and it worked like a charm. North Branch held the Beacons to only four more points the rest of the half as they went on their own 17-4 run over the last 11 minutes of the opening stanza. At halftime, the two teams were knotted at 21, and Anderson said they felt very good to be tied after working their way back from the deficit. In the second half, the teams couldn’t distinguish themselves from one another. It was a back and forth affair that had both teams grabbing small leads at different points. With just under two minutes left, junior guard Travis VanElsberg hit a big three pointer that broke a tie and put the Vikes up by three. The Beacons came back with a baseline runner that cut the lead to one. North Branch got a little sloppy with the ball on their next possession and the Beacons’ took advantage, scoring another basket and going up 41-40. VanElsberg had a crack at being the hero -- and there isn’t anyone else the Vikes would rather have the last shot fall to -- but his jumper just missed the mark with three seconds left and a Concordia Academy rebound sealed the game for them.
“Overall it was a very good game that we can take a lot of positives away from,” Anderson said. “This is essentially the same team that beat us 77-36 on our home court last season, so to almost pull out the win this year shows how far our guys have come and how their hard work is paying off.” Anderson was also impressed by the way his posts played defense. The Beacons’ feature a 6’8” center and 6’5” power forward which dwarfs North Branch’s frontcourt. But, Brandon Thauwald, Isaac Lewis and Jon Blomquist held them to only 14 points in the paint. “Even though we have started the season 0-2 we feel good about where we are as a team and how we are competing,” Anderson noted. “It's just a matter of time before we break through and start closing out these close games.” The Vikes have a busy week this week. They traveled to Simley on Tuesday to take on the Spartans, and then they host section opponent Hermantown tonight at 7:15. Then the Vikes will make their way to Mahtomedi for a Saturday matinee with the Zephyrs at 1 p.m. After this week, the Vikings will already jump into North Suburban Conference play with a match up against Fridley.