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October 19, 2018

12/21/2017 2:05:00 PM
NB boys basketball building a strong foundation despite losses

White Bear Lake 77, North Branch 44
The tough schedule rolled on for North Branch on Tuesday, December 12, as they took on White Bear Lake in another gross mismatch of school sizes.

“I thought we came out flat after playing a really good game against Tartan last week,” Head Coach Alex Kuhlman said. “Despite that, we were able to close the gap to 11 points at halftime.”

The momentum did not carry into the second half, though, with turnovers and rebounding being the main reason the Bears started to pull away and gain control.

With the in running time late, it afforded Kuhlman the chance to play some of the reserves. “I thought those guys came out and played with great energy and discipline in their first extended action of the year,” the coach said.

Nobody was in double figures for the Vikings. Zach Gazda had the best game, scoring seven points and pulling down seven boards. Jonah Marcussen had seven points and Rylen Nelson scored six. Drew VanEerden came off the bench and gave the Vikings five points and a big spark of energy.

Grand Rapids 69, North Branch 53
This game was a litmus test for the Vikings, as Grand Rapids is one of the teams to beat in the Section 7AAA. While the scoreboard ended up in a win for the Thunderhawks, the Vikings fared pretty well, considering where they were at last year.

“We really cleaned up the rebounding and did well after Tuesday’s poor effort,” Kuhlman noted.

The Vikings were leading 29-27 at one point early in the second half, but the Hawks went on a big run to build a little bit of a lead that they kept the rest of the way.

“Offensively we are really struggling putting the ball in the basket, but we have good shooters and that is something that I think will come around,” Kuhlman explained. “Until it does, we really have to put a focus on getting the ball inside. We took care of the ball and rebounded better, so hopefully we can continue that progress in those critical areas.”

Gazda had 13 points and 12 rebounds. He played what Kuhlman called the “best game of his career.”

Marcussen had 12 points and Dylan Ramberg added seven points, four rebounds, two assists, three blocks and one steal.

The Vikings took on Monticello earlier this week and will travel to Hermantown on Thursday, December 21 for a showdown with the Hawks before taking a week off for Christmas. After they return to action, they’ll take part in the Little Falls Holiday Tournament.

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