January 24, 2013 at 9:57 a.m.
Irondale 63, North Branch 58
Cody Knobbe scored a career high 23 points against Irondale early last week, but it still wasn’t enough to get the Vikings their third win on the season.
“It was another hard fought game that we couldn’t seem to find our break in,” Head Coach David Anderson said. “Irondale played hard and deserves a lot of credit, but at the same time, it feels like a missed opporuntity for us to have gotten a good win.” North Branch came out of the gates a bit flat, but Knobbe threw the team on his back, shouldering some of the scoring burden that usually falls on junior guard Travis VanElsberg. He scored 14 of his 23 points in the first half.
At the break, the Vikings trailed 32-27 and the margin stayed right around that for a lot of the second half.
Irondale’s biggest lead was eight points, but the Vikings trimmed it all the way down to two points with just over a minute left. They never pulled even, however, as the Knights hit their shots and free throws down the stretch and ended the game in a 63-58 victory.
“Along with Cody, Jon Blomquist had a big game for us and really played aggresively on both ends of the floor,” Anderson said. “Aaron Biederman and Isaac Lewis also both gave gutty performances even though they were not feeling well.” Anderson also pointed to the surprisingly strong play of sophomore Brandon Steffensen, noting that he has been giving the Vikings great minutes. Knobbe was the Vikes’ top scorer, while VanElsberg chipped in 12 points and Blomquist added 11 points. Jack Martinek of Irondale led all scorers with 34 points.
Columbia Heights 68, North Branch 59
Despite a boatload of errors in the game, the Vikings stayed with the eighth-ranked Class AAA Columbia Heights Hylanders all the way through.
North Branch committed 26 turnovers on the game and gave up 16 offensive boards to the bigger Heights’ squad, but some hot shooting kept them close to the Hylanders. At halftime, North Branch was only down by two points at 28-26. “We knew coming into the game that Heights would look to push the ball up the floor and play a fast pace,” Anderson explained. “Our goal from the start was to slow the game down and force them to play slower than they wanted to, however, we didn’t do that as well as we needed to.”
Much like the Irondale game, North Branch stayed right near Heights throughout the second half, but they couldn’t ever take the lead or establish themselves as the better team. “We just couldn’t quite close it out and ended up losing another close one to a very good team,” Anderson said after the contest.
VanElsberg scored 17 points for the Vikings while Blomquist chipped in 12 points. Both Brandon Thauwald and Dillon Harms had nine points. “Our biggest surprise performance tonight came from Riley Jacobson who came off the bench to really give us a defensive spark in the 2nd half. He played great composed defense and really attacked well at the right times on the offensive end,” Anderson said. “Dillon Harms also had a great game shooting the ball and has really become much more assertive on the offensive end of the floor.
“Aaron Biederman came off the bench and gave us great minutes in spite of still battling the flu. And of course, we had very strong performances from both Brandon Thauwald and Travis Van Elsberg. Both of whom are so consistently good that it can be easy to forget how vitally important they are for us.”
The Vikes took on St. Louis Park earlier this week in a tough game, and they travel to Spring Lake Park on Friday, Jan. 25 at 7:15 to take on the Panthers, who are 9-6 on the year.
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