|2/27/2020 2:54:00 PM|
Vikings break losing streak against CL
North Branch 83, Chisago Lakes 78
It’s been a long season for the North Branch boys basketball team. After starting 3-0, they went on a 19 game losing streak that featured multiple close losses.
They finally broke through for their fourth win of the year, and it was made all the more sweeter with the fact that it was against their rival, Chisago Lakes.
Despite featuring many young players, North Branch’s two seniors played an essential role in beating Chisago Lakes, with Drew VanEerden scoring 22 points with four assists and three steals and Carter Whiteman adding 21 points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals.
The Vikings jumped out to the early lead, up 32-16 midway through the first half. “With it being a double header and hall of fame night, our crowed was amazing and we came out with an incredible energy,” North Branch Head Coach Alex Kuhlman said.
But, AJ Koehler and Beau Backes, CL’s intimidating post duo, started to get to work and they went on a 23-2 run going into halftime to give CL the 39-36 lead at the break.
The ‘Cats continued to add on in the beginning of the second half, eventuall stretching their lead to seven at 56-49.
Undaunted, Van Eerden, Whitman and Gabe Huset all hit big shots to spark a 12-2 run that gave North Branch their first lead since the opening half at 61-58, and after a few back and forth moments, NB took the lead for good at 67-65, eventually holding on for an 83-78 victory.
The Vikings finally put their gameplan together, going 19-of-40 from three point land and forcing 27 turnovers that led to 36 points.
Chisago Lakes took advantage of North Branch staying out of the paint, out-rebounding the Vikings 43-18 and outscored them 54-11 on points in the paint, but in the modern game of basketball, the three point shot is the great equalizer, and it proved to be in this game. “I am thrilled for our senior captains to be able to put their stamp on their last game against Chisago,” Kuhlman said of Van Eerden and Whitman. “We are young…and we have exciting days ahead…but we have two guys that have made a great impact on our program and it is important to me and our team that we finish their careers strong.”
Huset added 13 points and seven assists, Logan Murphy had nine points and five boards and Trevor Johnson had nine points.
For Chisago Lakes, their bruising duo of Koehler and Backes combined for 40 points and 21 boards, but it just didn’t keep up with the long range bombs of NB. Ethan Thompson had a nice game for the ‘Cats also, scoring 16 and Reed Marquardt chipped in 11 points in the losing effort.
North Branch 65, Chisago Lakes 50
Both girls team came into their regular season finale with momentum on the line. They both had five game losing streaks heading into their showdown, and whoever could break theirs would feel much better heading into sections.
The Vikings had been missing post star Paige Peaslee for much of their losing streak, and she came back just in time to give them a major boost agains the ‘Cats.
She didn’t lead them in scoring, as that went to Kate Carlson, Megan Bunes and Maddie Helin, but she still scored 10 points, grabbed eight boards, five assists and three blocks. Her presence slotted everyone back to where they feel most comfortable, allowing the whole team to thrive. Carlson had 17 points, five steals and four assists, Bunes had 14 points and Helin had 13 points and nine rebounds.
For Chisago Lakes, the loss ended their season on a six game skid. Greta Gillach had 16 points, six boards and five assists. Lizzy Godden had 10 points and Jill Erickson had six points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams played their first round section game on Wednesday, February 26 after the Press went to print.
North Branch was the fifth seed and traveled to Grand Rapids and Chisago Lakes was the sixth seed and traveled to Hibbing.
If either team wins, they’ll play on Saturday, February 29 at Duluth Denfeld HIgh School.