December 10, 2009 at 9:46 a.m.

North Branch starts out a white-hot 3-0

North Branch starts out a white-hot 3-0
North Branch starts out a white-hot 3-0

North Branch 61, Minneapolis Henry 14

In the season-opener, which ended up being more of a warm up than anything, the North Branch girls basketball team plowed through the Minneapolis Patrick Henry Patriots.

The Vikings had a huge lead before the Patriots could even score a point, and by the end of halftime, the score was 33-1. Before it even got to that point, the Vikings had been cycling reserves in the game already.

"We had no problem with Patrick Henry, and we cruised to a nice win," Head Coach Dan Schindler said. "It was a good game to get all of our varsity players in. Some of our girls saw their first varsity experience and all 12 of them managed to get in the scoring column."

In the second half, North Branch out-scored the Patriots by 15 points as they coasted to an easy season-opening win.

Rebecca Collins led the Vikings offense with 15 points, and surprisingly, no other Vikings scored in double figures. It was just a steady onslaught of points from different players.

North Branch 54, Fridley 51

In their North Suburban Conference opener, the Vikings supplied a dramatic, come-from-behind win over the always-game Fridley Tigers. "This was a very good basketball game for the first week of the season," Schindler explained. "We had to battle the whole game."

After getting some key players in foul trouble early on, the Vikings had a tough time dealing with Fridley's physicality. The Tigers were able to take advantage and build a solid eight-point lead at the half.

In the second half, however, the Vikings two ignitors, guards Kendra Norman and Jessica Audette, started to control the tempo of the game. The pair led a charge that chipped away at the Tigers lead, as they finally tied it at 34-34.

With just over two minutes left in the game, the two teams were still knotted, this time at 47 apiece. Norman and Audette took over again, though, and through their dribble penetration, they were able to get to the free throw line seven straight times between the two. The made all seven, and that basically sealed the win for them. Although Fridley had a a late charge, the Vikings held them off for a 54-51 win.

"I think we were able to tire them out and then won it on the free throw line," Schindler explained. "For the game North Branch was 22-of-32 from the line while Fridley was seven-of-15. Our defense really stepped in up the second half and it was a nice team win."

Schindler really credited Norman and Audette with the turnaround, as the pair combined for 30 of the Vikings 37 second half points -- they each had 15.

For the game, Norman had 21 points and five steals, Audette had 16 points and Collins had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

North Branch 53, Duluth Central 27

The Vikings finished off their perfect week with another blowout, this time conquering the Trojans from Duluth Central.

The Vikings defensive press really bothered the Trojans from the start, and they were able to get a bevy of steals.

By halftime, North Branch had rolled out to a 32-12 lead behind their defensive pressure form Collins and Miranda Charley. "Those two did a great job causing deflections in the front of our press, and then Kendra and Jessica were able to use their quickness to convert those loose balls into points," Schindler said. "I thought Miranda, Rebecca and Josie Forstrom really played some solid defense for us and overall, I was pleased with the team effort."

After halftime, the Vikings built their lead a little more until they started to march the back ups in. The Trojans were never able to mount a comeback, eventually succumbing 53-27.

Audette led the scoring charge, netting 19 points to go along with 10 steals. Charley had seven points and nine rebounds, Collins scored 10 points and Norman had eight points and nine steals.

"We still missed some shots that we shouldn't, and still have some breakdowns in our press and defense, but I am confident we can get back in the gym and correct those," Schindler said.


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