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November 20, 2018

2/26/2018 11:51:00 AM
Vikings have two close calls

St. Francis 69, North Branch 63
The North Branch boys basketball team nearly battled back from a huge deficit to surprise the St. Francis Saints, but it ultimately became too much of an uphill battle to finish off.

The Vikings shot poorly in the first half, going down 40-25 at halftime. But, they responded in the second half, taking a big chunk of the lead away early on. “Unfortunately, we were not able to get over the hump and take over the lead,” Head Coach Alex Kuhlman said. “But, it was great to see the improvement from the first time playing St. Francis. We were able to take care of the ball better and put together a really good half of basketball.”

Despite St. Francis holding on for the win in the end, Zach Gazda had his best career game, scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in dominating fashion. Jonah Marcussen added 19 points on eight-of-13 shooting, and Dylan Ramberg had 12 points and nine rebounds. Brady Brodin rounded out the varied scoring attack with 10 points and four rebounds.

Drew VanEerden had a good spark off the bench, contributing six rebounds from his guard spot.

Princeton 76, North Branch 66
The losses kept coming for the Vikings, but not without a good fight.

For the second time this year, North Branch stayed right with Princeton throughout the game, despite the Tigers being 17-6 and the current top seed in Section 7AAA.

The Vikings continued their strong play from the second half of the St. Francis game into the first half of the Princeton contest, leading 31-25 at halftime. “It was one of the best halves we’ve played all year,” Kuhlman said.

In the second half, a couple of Princeton’s shooters got hot, and they were able to overtake North Branch. The Vikings did a good job at trying to keep them at bay, taking care of the ball against their pressure defense and getting the ball inside to their bigs, but they couldn’t trade twos for threes all night, and Princeton prevailed.

Jonah Marcussen had a monster second half, scoring 21 of his 28 points in the second fram and adding eight rebounds. He took over the scoring burden from Gazda, who had scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half. Gazda also added seven rebounds and three blocks.

Ramberg had a nice all around game in the losing effort, scoring six points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out eight assists. Conner Hartmann had his best game in some time, bringing energy off the bench with six points and 10 rebounds.

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