January 28, 2010 at 9:46 a.m.
With a tough patch of games on the docket, the North Branch boys basketball team struggled with two tradition conference powers.
First up was a North Suburban showdown with Spring Lake Park, and after staying competitive for three quarters of the game, the Vikings just weren't able to hang with the Panthers in the end.
At halftime, the Vikings were only down by four points after a Kyle Grote basket made it 32-28.
Christian Ehrnriter trimmed the lead to one with a three-pointer to open the second half. Through the first eight minutes of the half, that was the story: basket trading with SLP keeping a slim lead.
However, in the next four minutes the Panthers stretch their lead from four to 19 with a 19-4 run. "We played well, but we still made too many mistakes," Head Coach Bill Baumann said. "We have to learn that when the other team goes on a run, we have to slow down and have a good possession and then we have to buckle down and get defensive stops."
In the end, the Vikings lost the game by 21 points, 67-46.
Nobody scored in double digits for the Wildcats, and they just didn't have a good night shooting. Grote had nine points on two-of-12 shooting. Anders Dahlberg added eight points and Forest Huset, Ehrnriter and Kosta Moore all had seven points in the losing effort.
Benilde-St. Margaret's 75. North Branch 53
Although the Vikings had a tough time keeping up with Benilde-St. Margaret's talent and balance, Baumann said he couldn't be more proud of the guys and the way they played. "We really came out and played well at the beginning of the game, but their talent wore on us and they were able to take control," he said.
Although the Vikes only trailed by 11 at the half, Grote went down with an injury early in the second half, and things started to get tough for the Vikes. The Red Knights -- or more specifically Kyle Marx -- went on a run after that, hitting three straight three-pointers to give BSM a huge lead.
"We were able to stay with them the rest of the way but the damage was already done," Baumann said. "They are a very deep and talented team and we were able to play with them. If we can build on some of the things we did in this game we will be able to have good things happen in the future. If we can continue to get better, we may surprise some people by the end of the season. We have to convince the kids that this is a marathon and not a sprint."