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home : sports : sports
January 20, 2020

1/9/2020 3:07:00 PM
Vikes almost back to their own digs

After almost a year away from their official home court at the high school, the North Branch boys basketball team is finally ready to move back into the completed space that had suffered water damage during the construction of the new facilities.

Although their first game on the schedule after completion was an away contest, the eagerness to return was high.

“Our main gym floor is completed and it has been nice being able to get back on that court. We haven’t been able to have a practice or workout in that gym since the end of last season. Between repainting the floors, construction, and fixing the water damage it has been a long three or four years,” Head Coach Alex Kuhlman said of the process. “Now that it is completed, I truly believe we have as good of facilities as any Class AAA school. The weight room is everything that we could hope for, our game gym is as good as any that we play in, and having the new courts will be great for our ninth grade teams as well as giving more options for our youth programs. It was a long process, but it will all be worth it now that it is done. Thanks to the custodians who worked like crazy to get it ready for us last week!”

Hibbing 76, North Branch 48
 “We knew Hibbing would be a great challenge for us -- I feel like they will be competing at the top of our section for the one seed,” Kuhlman said. “They are well coached, have 3-4 great shooters, and one of the best young playmakers in the state. We just didn’t come out with the edge and energy that you need to compete against a team like that.”

The Vikings hung around early, only trailing by 10 at 27-17, but the Bluejackets went on a 19-0 run near the end of the first frame that essentially put the game out of reach.

“We played much better and more competitively in the second half but of course the game had completely changed at that point. As a coach I have to figure out how to get us to come out more mentally focused, physically ready, and emotionally dialed in,” Kuhlman said. “Right now, we aren’t scoring well enough to dig out of a hole like that -- we have to be much better at the beginning of games.”

Kuhlman noted that despite the margin, there are always positives to take out of every game. They wanted to limit point guard Ayden McDonald, and Carter Whitman did a great job holding him to four points, although he did end up with 13 assists.  

“We also rebounded the ball better than we have most of the year…especially our bigs,” Kuhlman said.

Trevor Johnson ended up having 14 points and six rebounds, Drew VanEerden had eight points and three rebounds, Whitman had eight and four rebounds, and Carson Klein had seven points, three rebounds, and two steals in his first start.

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