February 14, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
Even though it was the opening match up in the Chisago County rivalry doubleheader, the girls basketball game between North Branch and Chisago Lakes was supposed to be the real main event.
The two teams came in with a combined record of 28-12 and were in third and fourth place, respectively, in the North Suburban Conference. Although the Wildcats had taken it to the Vikings in their first meeting this year, many chalked that up to a terrible eight minute stretch in the first half by the Vikes. But this time, the Vikings were missing senior leader Sarah Lekson, who was absent from her eighth straight game with an ankle injury.
Still, North Branch got out to that quick start that eluded them in the first match up and enjoyed a 14-9 lead at one point. But, Chisago Lakes’ size advantage quickly became evident. Bry Fernstrom and Sarah Greene started dominating on the inside when Hannah Trandahl would penetrate the lane. “Chisago Lakes is just a tough match up for us right now as they do a great job with their big girls on the inside,” NB Head Coach Dan Schindler said. “They won the match up of paint points and out-rebounded us. Usually the team that does that wins.”
After being down 14-9, Chisago Lakes went on a 28-8 run to end the first half and take a commanding 37-22 lead into the locker room. “I thought we started the game well, but Chisago Lakes just keeps coming at you and we didn’t have an answer,” Schindler said. The Wildcats were especially effective on the night because Trandahl was taking more shots than normal. With the defense giving her a little extra room because of her ability to dish to Fernstrom and Greene, Trandahl scored 16 points on the night.
Still, the benefactor to most of Trandahl’s nine assists was Fernstrom, who ended the night with a game-high 21 points. “Bryanna is a great presence inside but I am really impressed how Trandahl gets her the basketball in the right position to score,” Schindler said. In the second half, it was much of the same. The Wildcats stretched their lead to the 20-point mark on a few different occasions, and North Branch never had an answer and eventually lost 71-55
“Our problem again was consistent scoring,” Schindler explained. “I give Chisago Lakes and Coach Craig Walker credit. They were ready to play and did a nice job playing to their strengths.” At the same token, Schindler was still happy with the way his girls performed, despite being down by a wide margin most of the game. “Our girls never quit playing and we did some nice things in the second half but it was too late to overcome the big lead Chisago had at halftime,” he said.
Outside of Trandahl and Fernstrom’s combined 37 points, Greene added 13, Beka Meyer had seven and Sam Forslund had six points. Fernstrom added 12 rebounds, including five offensive. CL had 15 offensive rebounds on the game. Courtney Selbitschka led North Branch with 16 points and Haley Huset chipped in 11 points in the losing effort. Both Morgen Coleman and Taylor Gazda had eight points for the Vikes.
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