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home : sports : sports May 26, 2016

1/24/2013 11:06:00 AM
Vikings back on track with three straight wins
Courtney Selbitschka had 43 points, 20 steals and seven assists in North Branch’s three victories last week.
Courtney Selbitschka had 43 points, 20 steals and seven assists in North Branch’s three victories last week.

North Branch 63, Irondale 60
The Lady Vikings wrapped up their month long road trip with a narrow -- but much needed -- victory over the Irondale Knights.

North Branch had lost three games in a row after beginning the season 9-0, and they were looking to break that streak against the 5-9 Knights. The Vikings began the game well behind freshman Courtney Selbitschka and senior Annette Olson. The combo scored 17 of North Branch’s 32 points, but the Vikes still trailed at halftime because Irondale was shooting the three ball with uncanny accuracy. They hit nine three pointers in the half, accounting for 27 of Irondale’s 34 points.

“At halftime, we just talked about extending our defense and hoping Irondale wouldn’t continue to hit all those three pointers,” Head Coach Dan Schindler said.

But, those best laid plans went awry when Irondale just kept hitting their long distance shots. They knocked down four more three pointers in the second stanza, but this time, they were matched. Haley Huset alone knocked down four three pointers in the half, and it kept North Branch just a bit in front of Irondale. As the clock ticked away and North Branch clung to it small lead,

the game came down to free throws. Selbitschka knocked down two big ones with five seconds left to stretch NB’s lead to five and seal the game. The difference in the game was the free throw disparity. Despite all of Irondale’s three pointers, North Branch was 19-of-31 from the charity stripe while Irondale was only nine-of-13.

Huset was the offensive star for North Branch, netting 24 points, but Selbitschka and Lekson both hit double digits also. Selbitschka had 16 points while Lekson chipped in 13. “This was a very good basketball game. It was a fun game and girls from both sides played very well,” Schindler said. “This was a night where all our team members really gave us good minutes and we needed every one of them. I thought Mikayla Carlson, Taylor Gazda, Emily Trunk and Jessica Merchant all came in and gave us energy.”

North Branch 73, Columbia Heights 32
In North Branch’s long awaited return home, they faced off against an overmatched Columbia Heights team. Although the Hylanders have begun to make the climb out of the North Suburban cellar, they still struggle against the upper-echelon teams and it showed.

North Branch was up 42-10 at halftime, and Schindler said he was very happy with the energy the team brought to their homecourt after being away for so long and having just played a tough game against Irondale. In the second half, a lot of reserves got good chunks of time in for North Branch as Columbia Heights never made a run or made it interesting.

“I thought the front of our press with Haley and Courtney was really active,” Schindler said. “When they can put pressure on and force turnovers, they usually lead to easy baskets for us on the other end.” The pair combined for 11 steals on the night. Lekson recorded a double-double, scoring a game-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Selbitschka added 14 points and Emily Trunk had eight off the bench.

North Branch 85, FAIR School 15
The Vikings cruised to another victory, this time besting a charter school that just recently started their basketball program.

“We really just have much more experience than them,” Schindler explained after the game. “It was a nice game in the respect that many of our junior varsity girls who never get much varisty playing time got most of it in this game.” The Vikings were up 51-8 at halftime and sailed along in the second half, winning 85-15.

Morgen Coleman led the charge with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Huset had 20 points, Selbitschka had 13 and Sarah Davis had 10 points. “Those players work very hard in practice every night and usually don’t get the credit,” Schindler said. “It was nice to see them play well and get extended minutes.”

The Vikings are now 12-3 on the season after their three-game winning streak. They took on St. Louis Park earlier in the week before hosting Spring Lake Park on Friday, Jan. 25 at 7:15. “Spring Lake Park is probably the biggest team in the conference, and they will give us some match up problems,” Schinder said. “We are hoping our home court can give us that needed edge we are looking for.”

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