February 16, 2006 at 7:00 a.m.
The lid was on the Vikings’ basket early as the Panthers built a 9-0 lead. North Branch didn’t score until the 12:40 mark, when Gabrielle Olson started doing what she does best. Olson dished the ball to Kristen Robatcek, who scored for the Vikes. In the next two minutes, that combination clicked twice more and the deficit was 12-6.
Tiffany Good took over the scoring load for the home team. Good scored on a drive at 7:20 and converted two freethrows with 4:37. No other Viking scored in that span as SLP built a 19-10 advantage.
With his offense sputtering, Viking head coach Dan Schindler encouraged his players to work even harder on the defensive end of the court. His team responded and shut out the Panthers for the rest of the half.
Meanwhile, Olson provided a nice feed to Randi Zentner, who scored two at the 4:05 mark. Two minutes later, Good tossed in a three. Olson connected on a long two before the buzzer sounded to cut the Panther halftime advantage to 19-16.
Just like they did to start the game, the Panthers outscored the Vikings 12-6 at the beginning of the second half. With 12:30 to go, SLP led 31-22.
Down but not out, North Branch rallied over the next two minutes to knot the score at 31. Olson, Robatcek and Good led the 9-0 run. Olson gave her team it’s first lead of the game (33-32) on two freethrows at the midway point of the half. With 8:15 remaining, she gave her team its last lead (35-34) with a 12 foot jumper.
However, another scoring drought left the Vikes on the short end of a 43-37 score. Olson’s basket cut the deficit to four with 4:35 on the clock. Two minutes later, a Kacie Ramberg steal resulted in a North Branch hoop and a Marlayna Graff freethrow made the score 45-42.
With 28.8 seconds showing, Robatcek’s long three made it 47-45. But, the Vikings were forced to foul and Spring Lake Park went 4 for 4 from the stripe to account for the final margin.
“I am glad we only had one game last week. Many of our team members were sick part of last week and we had many players missing each practice. It was the first time all year we had to change our starting line-up. But that’s part of the game and all teams go through things like this. It’s up to the other girls to step it up when things like this happen,” commented Viking head coach Dan Schindler.
“Our big problem....was cold shooting. In the first half, we only shot 7-31 (23 percent). It’s tough winning any games with those stats. We shot the ball better the second half, but we really lost the game in the first half. Our girls played hard and really battled, but it’s just too hard to win when you don't shoot the basketball well. For the game we were 19-60 (32 percent) while Spring Lake was 20-49 (41 percent),” Schindler continued.
The Vikings’ shooting woes extended to the three point line. SLP connected on five from the arc, while NB managed to make only one.
“As a coach you are always looking for effort and the girls gave everything they had. To win close games like this, we just have to shoot the basketball better. We also need our other players to step it up and give us some added offense,” Schindler added
Playing sick, like a number of her teammates, Olson led her team with eight assists and seven steals. Graff grabbed 11 rebounds and Robatcek scored 15.
North Branch 16 29 45
Spring Lake Park 19 32 51
Tiffany Good ................... 12
Randi Zentner ................... 2
Kristen Robatcek................... 15
Marlayna Graff ................... 5
Gab Olson ................... 11
The Vikings travel to St. Francis tonight (February 16). The Saints defeated the Vikings 58-57 earlier in the season.
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