Every year for the past half decade, the North Branch girls basketball team has played Minneapolis Henry, and every year has been a glorified scrimmage. This year was no different as the Vikings used the Patriots as a nice tune up in a 67-13 win. Over the last five years, North Branch has outscored Henry 313-93, or an average of 63-19. The game was never in doubt for the Vikings, as they cruised to a 39-7 halftime lead that only got bigger as the game went on. “Against Minneapolis Henry we were able to get some early baskets off steals,” Head Coach Jerome Huselid said. “We passed the ball very well. It was fun to see so many assists and such a balanced scoring attack with four of our girls scoring in double digits.” Those girls were led by Haley Huset’s 13 points. Sarah Davis and Morgen Coleman each added 11 points and Courtney Selbitschka had 10 for the Vikings.
North Branch 46, Duluth Denfeld 32 The Vikings got a bit of a tougher test when they hosted the Duluth Denfeld Hunters on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Hunters were fresh off an 80-52 loss to Chisago Lakes on Friday night, and North Branch didn’t treat them much better. In the first half, the Vikings struggled to pull away after starting the game on an 11-3 run. They were again being paced by Huset and, at times, Selbitschka, but Denfeld was hung tough and actually took a one point lead into the locker room at halftime. “Denfeld did a great job of coming back and hitting some big shots,” Huselid said. “We turned the ball over a few times on their half court trap and struggled with our zone offense the first half.”
However, in the second half, North Branch’s techniques started working on the Hunters. The Lady Vikes were able to consistently break Denfeld’s zone defense and found open shots. On defense, the girls started to contest the Hunters’ shots and jump their passing lanes. But, it wasn’t until the last few minutes that North Branch truly felt secure in the win. They got a big three point shot from Haley Huset, plus an and-one on the play that really sealed the victory. “The girls adjusted very well the second half moving the ball and finding open shots against their zone,” Huselid said. “Ultimately it was a great defensive team effort by everyone the second half.”