March 15, 2007 at 8:54 a.m.
Senior Nick Perrin led the Viking boys to an early lead. Jake Kovarik, Jake Chambers and Justin Novak all assisted Perrin in the early going as he scored three field goals in the first five minutes. At the 11:39 mark, the Vikings held a 10-5 lead, their biggest of the game.
The Royals responded with a four minute, 10-0 run that put them in front 15-10 with 7:25. The Vikings didn't score again until 6:15 when Bryce Hunter made it 15-12. Only Perrin and Novak found the net for NB in the final minutes of the half as Rogers built its lead to as many as nine points. When the teams went to the locker rooms, the Royals had a 25-18 advantage.
Justin Novak outscored Rogers 7-0 in the first 92 seconds of the final period, tying the score at 25. After a Rogers hoop, John Lindstrom's basket created another tie at 15:39. In the next minute, the Royals scored five quick points to take a 32-27 lead. A Lindstrom three and a Novak two resulted in the game's fourth tie, 32-32, with 12:48 to go.
Two minutes later, a Kovarik three and a Novak freethrow knotted the score at 36. That was the last tie of the contest. In the last third of the game, Rogers outscored the Vikings 10 to 3 from the freethrow line. NB had opportunities from the line, but only Perrin was able to convert in the last 12 minutes.
"We had trouble from the charity stripe the whole season and it really came back to bite us in this game," said North Branch head coach Bill Baumann. "The fact is that they hit freethrows while we didn't." The Royals were 19 for 28 from the line. The Vikings went 8 for 20.
After the tie at 36, Rogers scored seven unanswered points. Novak's three, midway through the half, cut the margin to four and a Perrin freethrow at 6:35 made it 43-40 with 6:35 left.
Perrin finished with a flourish, scoring 10 of the Vikings' last 12. His three pointer from the corner with 44 seconds remaining cut the Rogers lead to 53-51. But, the Royals went 4 for 4 from the line in the final seconds, ending the Vikings' season 57-51.
"This game was a microcosm of the whole season. All year long, I never really felt we reached our potential," Baumann said. "We struggled all year shooting the ball and that was the case again against Rogers. We had open looks and close shots. We just didn't finish. We actually rebounded pretty well overall, but we gave up some crucial putbacks late in the game."
North Branch 18 33 51
Rogers 25 32 57
North Branch Scoring
Ryan Norman 1
Nick Perrin 20
Jake Chambers 5
Justin Novak 15
Bryce Hunter 2
John Lindstrom 5
Jake Kovarik 3
"I would like to thank the seniors, DJ Charley, Mark Johnson, Jake Kovarik, Justin Novak and Nick Perrin, for the effort they put forth this year. I would have a hard time finding players that put as much effort into their play on the court as these five did. No matter when they were on the court, for as long as they were on the court, I could count on them giving us their maximum effort," Baumann added.