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home : sports : sports
January 21, 2018

1/8/2018 10:53:00 AM
Bench sparks first win of the year

North Branch 72, Staples-Motley 64
It took them eight games, but the North Branch boys basketball team finally got their first win of the season.

They beat Staples-Motley in the opening round of the Little Falls Holiday Tournament, and they did it  playing a very unorthodox team.
Coming into the game, North Branch Head Coach Alex Kuhlman said he knew the Cardinals would shoot a lot of three pointers, and the Cardinals didn’t disappoint. They were especially generous in their long range shot attempts, taking 40 three pointers on the game, making 14 of them.

But, North Branch countered that long range assault with a bruising inside game and tough defense. They grabbed 20 offensive rebounds as a team and that led to 26 second chance points.

“It was great to get our first win of the season against a good Staples Motley team. We didn't play our best game of the year, and our shooting still hasn't gotten on track but we were able to overcome that,” Kuhlman said.

The game started off rough for the Vikings, with Staples-Motley racing out to a 10-0 lead, but after Kuhlman turned to his bench early, they went on a 16-3 run to retake the lead. North Branch found themselves down by just two points heading into the second half.

They’ve been in that spot before this year, though, and couldn’t finish. This time it was different. The Vikings outscored the Cardinals by 10 in the second half, 41-31.

“We definitely owe a lot of credit to our bench for keeping us in the game until some of our starters were able to get us back on track,” Kuhlman noted.

Brady Brodin led the Vikings with 17 points and six rebounds. Conner Hartmann had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Dylan Ramberg scored 12 points and Jonah Marcussen had 11 points and seven rebounds.

The five bench players who produced the much-needed jolt to the starters were Carter Whitman, Brodin, Ben Roettjer, Austin Grovender and Rylen Nelson. “The energy they provided was awesome to watch,” Kuhlman said.

Stewartville 67, North Branch 57
The Stewartville Tigers won the Holiday Classic when they beat North Branch in the championship game.

The game had a similar feel to the first one for North Branch, except this time, the  hole they dug for themselves was too big to overcome.

The Vikings got down 21-4 to the Tigers, and it was a completely different team and game than the Staples-Motley contest. After the Cardinals spent the whole game around perimeter, Stewartville used their size and strength to bully the Vikings down low in the post.

After the big deficit in the first half was nearly erased midway through the second half, the Tigers went on a 14-2 run to essentially seal the game. North Branch fought back again and cut the lead from 16 to eight, but they didn’t get any closer.

“The guys deserve a lot of credit for fighting back twice before falling short,” Kuhlman said.

Brodin was again the major offensive contributor for North Branch, scoring 23 points and dishing out four assists. “He started the year off in a bit of a slump, but he came through with two huge days for us and it’s great to see him getting into rhythm,” the head coach said.

Jonah Marcussen had a great all-around game with 15 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block.



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