February 15, 2007 at 8:43 a.m.

Vikings end Benilde's conference winning streak of 64 straight

Vikings end Benilde's conference winning streak of 64 straight
Vikings end Benilde's conference winning streak of 64 straight

"It was quite a week for the North Branch girls' basketball team," said   Viking head coach Dan Schindler. The Vikes won their seventh game in a row, defeating Benilde-St. Margaret's, the number one Class AAA team in the state, 43-39 in North Branch. The win ended Benilde's 64-game conference winning streak. 

Friday, February 9, the Vikings came up on the short end of a 56-48 score at St. Francis, but senior point guard Gabrielle Olson scored the 1000th point of her career.   

Benilde St. Margaret's 18 21 39

North Branch 21 22 43 

"The girls really were focused for this one," Schindler said.  "Benilde has been rated number one most of the year and they won the state tournament last year.  One of Benilde's best players is out for the year (broken foot) and we knew, if we really played great defense, we would have a chance to win." 

The Vikings got off to a fast start, taking a 9-4 lead in the first three minutes. Midway through the period, NB was up 13-6. The scoreboard remained unchanged until the Red Knights hit a three with 6:09 to go.

Thirty seconds later Tiffany Good found Ashley Johnson open in the lane. Johnson banked it in to give the Vikings a 15-9 margin. At 5:22 a Red Knight basket started a six point run that tied the score at 15 with 3:42 left in the half.

Nobody was able to find the net until Megan Scherer grabbed an offensive board, scored on the putback and completed the three-point play from the line with 1:45 to go. With 55 seconds on the clock, Olson hit a long three to put the Vikes up 21-15.

Benilde matched Olson's three to make it 21-18 as the teams went to the locker room.

The second half saw NB extend its lead to 37-26, but Benilde came storming back and got within two points before Olson hit some key freethrows down the stretch to give Benilde its first conference loss in four years. 

"I thought Randi Zentner played great defense on their very powerful center.  She was outsized considerably, but just worked hard and denied her the basketball," Schindler commented.  "Many times Randi dove at the pass into their post player to knock it away." 

Zentner had eight steals and seven rebounds and, "really set up the great defensive tempo for us," the coach continued.  Schindler credited Kacie Ramberg, Kristen Robatcek and Amy Aho with outstanding hustle, which limited  Benilde's three point shooters to few open looks. 

Offensively, Olson paced North Branch with 16 points and six assists.  "And Tiffany Good continued to play solid basketball for us and grabbed 10 big rebounds.  It was a nice effort and got us over the .500 mark in the conference at 8-7, after starting the season at 1-7.  It was a great team effort.  The coaching staff is extremely proud of this group and how hard they have worked to improve from our slow start," Schindler added.  

North Branch Scoring

Kacie Ramberg 5

Tiffany Good 7

Randi Zentner 4

Kristen Robatcek 6

Megan Scherer 3

Gabrielle Olson 16

Ashley Johnson 2

Total 43

North Branch at St. Francis 

"It was a very good basketball game and St. Francis just shot the ball better than we did," coach Schindler commented   "They have a lot of weapons and are a very good basketball team."

The Vikings got off to a good start and led early 9-6. But, the Saints got their running game going and some transition baskets by let them take a 25-21 lead into halftime.

Near the start of the second half, Tiffany Good make a great pass to Olson under the basket, who scored the 1000th point of her career. "I thought it was fitting that Tiffany gave her the pass as those two have played so well together in their great careers," Schindler said.  

St. Francis made their first six shots, including three from the three-point-line to increase the lead to 37-25. North Branch battled back and got back within four points at 49-45 before St. Francis held on for the win. 

"It was really an up-tempo game and our girls really gave it everything they had.  We just didn't make as many shots as they did.  For North Branch, it was fitting that Olson led us with 16 points followed by Tiffany Good with 13,"  Schindler concluded. Olson also had nine rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Vikings.   

North Branch 21 27 48

St. Francis 25 31 56

North Branch Scoring

Kacie Ramberg 2

Tiffany Good 13

Randi Zentner 4

Kristen Robatcek 9

Amy Aho 4

Gabrielle Olson 16

Total 48

The 12-10 Vikings travel to Irondale Thursday, February 15 before hosting Columbia Heights Tuesday, February 20. Both games start at 7:15 p.m.


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