March 11, 2010 at 12:09 p.m.
Although the North Branch girls basketball team was coming off of a monumental upset in the first round, their momentum wasn't enough to carry them to the section finals for the second year in a row.
North Branch's shooting woes reared their ugly head again, but they managed to battle through them for most of the game.
The Vikes held an early lead, and actually had a chance to extend it to a sizeable margin in the first half, but they just couldn't hit the big shots to stretch the lead. "Scoring points has been tough for us all season, and we had some chances and just missed some shots," Head Coach Dan Schindler said.
In the second half, North Branch kept it close for a good chunk of the stanza, but the Eagles were able to fend them off and add points at the end with good free throw shooting.
"Their size and speed are a tough match up for us," Schindler explained. "They also have a very deep bench and I think they were able to wear us down a little bit in the second half."
"Again I was really proud of the girl's effort," he continued. "We led for most of the first half and trailed at halftime only 22-20."
Sarah Lekson continued her strong stretch of postseason games, scoring 14 points for the Lady Vikings. "Sarah really finished the season strong and her future looks very bright for the Vikings," Schindler said of his freshman forward.
"The difference in the game was Totino-Grace three point shooting. For the game they ended up with eight three pointersand we had two," Schindler surmised.
Although the season end is always tough, it's especially bitter for Schindler this year because almost half of his 14 varsity players are graduating seniors.
"I am really proud of how this group -- all 14 varsity players -- finished the season. We had some great practices the last two weeks and finished playing our best basketball," he said. "My only regret is losing our six seniors. They are all great players and great people. Rebecca Collins, Rikki Beaver, Laura Aho, Josie Forstrom, Jessica Audette, and Miranda Charley will be missed. I would like to thank them for four years of dedication to our program."
Although thos six all played a big role in the Vikings' 2009-10 campaign, Schindler is also award that eight eight returners, including Kendra Norman and Lekson, things don't look too bad for the coming years. "We will have eight returning varsity players back and I am already real excited about them playing next year," he said. "Our junior varsity team was 20-6 and our ninth grade was 19-4, so we certainly have some good players coming up.
He continued heaping the praise when talking of his assistant coaching staff also.
"I would like to thank my assistant coaches, Jerome Huselid, Alison Trampe, and Justin Sawyer for all the time and hard work they have done," Schindler said. "I am very lucky to have such decicated coaches to work with. I also would like to thank the school, parents, and fans who continue to support our team each year and who make this job very fun to do. And finally to my players who are just the BEST! It has been another great season."
The Vikings finished 14-14 overall.