March 12, 2004 at 9:23 a.m.
North Branch 35
Dan Schindler knew it was just a number. A number that didn’t even come close to reflecting how good they really were.
Seeded number six in the section 6AAA playoffs, Totino-Grace traveled to North Branch last Thursday to face the three-seeded Vikings. When the game was finished, the Vikings season was over and the Eagles had an upset win. Or was it?
“Totino started the season 1-10, but after getting back some key players from injury, they were 11-4 in their last 15 games,” said Schindler, North Branch girls basketball head coach.
Some six seed.
The Eagles jumped on North Branch in the first, exposing the Vikings nerves right from the start, building a 12-6 lead after one.
“Their size really gave us trouble, both on the offensive boards and on their defense,” remarked Schindler. “I think we came out a little nervous and we tried to force the ball too much on the inside right away. They hurt us on the offensive boards. All of their baskets seemed to be on second and third shots.”
Although North Branch settled down in the second quarter, both teams traded points, keeping the Totino lead at six at the half. No matter what they did, the Vikings couldn’t seem to get over the hump.
“We settled down and played much better in the second quarter, but the main problem was that they played great defense too and their size really hurt our perimeter people from getting off any open shots,” replied Schindler. “We did some good things but we just couldn’t finish on offense.”
Those shots eventually started to fall for North Branch as the Vikings battled back to tie the game in the third, 24-24, but the Eagles finished the quarter with a basket, jumping back in front 26-24 through three quarters. Through it all, Totino never fell behind, including in the fourth where the Eagles outscored North Branch 12-11 late, securing a 38-35 win.
“We were never able to get into any rhythm on offense. It was close the whole way but Totino just was able to hit more shots than us,” said Schindler. “We certainly were very disappointed with the loss, but we are still very happy about the season. At the beginning of the season, not many teams gave us a chance and we ended up with 18 wins, and after the holiday break, played with every team we faced. I think this team really showed improvement over the season.”
The Vikings finished the season by winning 14 of their last 17 games, finishing the season 18-9. One of the reasons for their late success was their senior class. Five seniors strong, Katie Hasleiet, Rachel Brown, Kara Lundeen, Vashaity Center, and Jennah Engen played their final games last Thursday night.
“They will all really be missed,” mentioned Schindler. “But, they leave with three conference championships and two state trips over four years. I also would like to thank all our great parents and fans. We are lucky at North Branch to have such great support. And lastly, I want to thank my assistant coaches. Brian Hasleiet, Kristen Hetland, and Allison Reese do such a great job for me. We are already looking forward to next year. We have players back who have gained a lot of valuable experience this year and I know they will work hard this summer to improve their skills.”
North Branch 35
1 2 3 4 F
Totino-Grace 12 10 4 12 38
North Branch 6 10 8 11 35
Anderson 10, Olson 8, Brown 7, Center 6, Good 2, Lundeen 1, Stegmeir 1.