January 22, 2004 at 3:29 p.m.
Pine City 56
To put things into perspective, last Tuesday’s first quarter between North Branch and Pine City was so fast paced, that the two teams combined for 44 points. It was just the type of pace the Vikings were hoping to avoid.
The Dragons were the instigators, scoring 25 in the first quarter, giving them a six-point lead after eight minutes of basketball. For a team that prides itself on defense, the pill was a tough one for North Branch to swallow.
“We didn’t play a very good first quarter of defense,” said Dan Schindler, North Branch girls basketball head coach. “We weren’t rotating on their ball reversal and they got too many open shots. And it seemed like they made every one of them.”
The Vikings went back to the drawing board on defense, executing much better in the second quarter, so much so that they were able to trim the deficit to one at the break, 35-34. Still, they had a long way to go.
As the game went on, the Vikings got stronger. In the third, North Branch used a 14- point barrage to take the lead. Meanwhile, on defense, the Vikings settled into a groove, holding the Dragons to eight points in the quarter, easily their lowest output of the night. Leading 48-43, the teams headed into the fourth, setting up what would prove to be a memorable finish.
The Dragons roared back in the fourth, trading blows with the Vikings before tying the game 56-56 with under a minute left to play. After a North Branch timeout, the play was set. After another Viking time-out and with the clock winding down, the plan went into action. Actually, the initial plan failed. Looking for junior Jenny Anderson inside, the Vikings instead put the ball in the hands of senior Katie Hasleiet. Hasleiet’s three-point bomb was picture perfect, and so was their 59-56 win.
“We weren’t trying to stall, but after running off about 30 seconds, we called another time-out and decided to go for the last shot,” remembered Schindler. “We ran the clock to 10 seconds and used another time-out. We wanted to get the ball to Jenny Anderson, but Pine City did a nice job of denying her the ball. But they failed to guard Katie Hasleiet at the three-point line. It was more exciting than I want them to be, but after the first quarter, I thought we played a solid game.”
The Vikings were led by Vashaity Center who scored 19 points. Anderson added to the North Branch inside attack with 14, and Hasleiet struck for 15. Thank goodness for the Vikings, it wasn’t 12.
“Pine City was doubling Jenny (Anderson) most of the game and we did a nice job if finding Vashaity Center on the opposite side for some easy baskets,” replied Schindler. “We are still learning and we need to be able to make those adjustments during the game instead of between quarters.”
The win was the Vikings third in a row, pushing their conference mark to 4-2 with league leader St. Michael-Albertville up next.
North Branch 59
Pine City 56
1 2 3 4 F
North Branch 19 15 14 11 59
Pine City 25 10 8 13 56
Center 19, Hasleiet 15, Anderson 14, Olson 7, Stegmeir 4.
St. Michael-Alb. 35
North Branch 30
While fast breaks, three-pointers, and points lit the scoreboard versus Pine City, last Friday versus St. Michael-Albetville, steals rebounds, and defense took over.
Bringing a perfect conference record into the game (6-0), the Knights looked to jump on North Branch early but the Vikings set the tone with their zone defense, controlling the tempo from start to finish. However, St. Michael had a pretty good defensive game of their own to show off.
Both teams started slow offensively. In the first half, the Vikings looked inside while the Knights did their damage outside, trying to solve the North Branch zone.
Tied 7-7 after one, St. Michael came up buzzing early in the second. The Knights slowly started to build their lead before North Branch battled back, closing out the half with a flurry, charging back to tie the game 19-19 at the break.
“They have been scoring a lot of points, so we wanted to keep the temp down as their strength is more fast paced and helter skelter,” said Schindler. “I think we did a great job of controlling the tempo, it was a sloe game the whole way.”
The Knights again pulled ahead in the third quarter before another Viking run pulled the game even 28-28 early in the fourth, but St. Michael had been there before and their experience took over down the stretch. While North Branch missed several opportunities, mainly from the free throw line, the Knights converted, outscoring the Vikings 7-4 in the fourth to earn a tight 35-30 win.
“The girls played hard and I was proud of their effort,” remarked Schindler. “We just needed someone to step up their game in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. We had our chances and that’s all you can ask for when you’re playing a quality team like St. Michael.”
Jenny Anderson finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Olson added five and Brown had four. However, the one stat Schindler remembered after the game was 7-16, as in what the Vikings shot from the free throw line.
“In close games, that’s usually the difference,” commented Schindler. “We struggled all night against their defense, it was a defensive battle for both teams. We just need to keep working and do the little things better. We have improved and are very close to beating the good teams. Hopefully we can do that in the second half of the season.”
Now 4-3 in conference and 7-7 overall, the Vikings have two more games this week with Zimmerman and Big Lake before starting the second half of their conference schedule on January 27 against Foley.
North Branch 30
1 2 3 4 F
STMA 7 12 9 7 35
North Branch 7 12 7 4 30
Anderson 17, Olson 5, Brown 4, Center 3, Hasleiet 1.