|1/16/2020 4:17:00 PM|
North Branch plays their best game of the year in loss to Princeton
Princeton 77, North Branch 70
Despite losing to the Tigers on Tuesday, January 7, North Branch Head Coach Alex Kuhlman was very happy with the way his team played against Princeton.
The Tigers are one of the better teams in the conference this year and have been ranked in the top 10 in Class AAA at different times this season.
“We played our best 36 minutes of the year. We were able to stick with them through the entire game,” he said. “We weren’t able to finish the game with a win, but I loved how hard we played and the confidence that we played with. We just had a number of careless turnovers that we weren’t able to overcome.”
The game had plenty of highlights for NB, even on the losing side of things. Logan Murphy had 22 points, eight rebounds four assists and he took eight charges, which is some dirty work that not everyone is cut out for. “If he continues to improve at the rate that he has, he is in for a great rest of the season and career,” Kuhlman noted.
Carter Whitman also had a great game for the Vikes with 20 points and six rebounds. Trevor Johnson added 13 points and Anthony Riley had nine points off the bench for NB.
St. Francis 63, North Branch 47
This game showed how much North Branch lives and dies by the three pointer, as they had an early 11 point lead on some hot shooting in the first half, but watched that quickly evaporate when they went cold in the second half.
“I was really impressed with our guys defensively in the first half, holding St. Francis to 18 points at halftime,” Kuhlman explained. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take advantage of that as much as we would have liked.”
St. Francis ended the game on a 32-10 run when NB’s shots weren’t falling and even when they drove to the basket, they weren’t finishing or getting to the line.
Kuhlman thought the lack of offense was affecting the defensive effort, too, and that’s what allowed St. Francis to get back into it and take the lead so quickly.
By the end of the night, the Vikings shot just eight-of-37 from three point land, and were led in scoring by Carson Klein and Johnson, who each had 11 points. Nobody else scored more than seven for NB.
“For the most part I have liked the way that we are playing. Our biggest problem right now is putting together a full 36 minutes of consistent, well played basketball,” Kuhlman said. “With our lack of size, we are very reliant on the three point shot and we just haven’t shot it very well to start the season. That being said, we have led in the second half of five of the seven losses on the year so we need to learn how to finish…for a young team this is to be expected. We will get better at closing out games and I expect us to have a much better middle third of the season!”