January 24, 2019 at 3:15 p.m.
The Wildcats jumped out to the early lead on their home court, going ahead 12-3 in the first few minutes of the game, but North Branch didn’t back down, retaking the lead and going up 28-23 at halftime. They were energized by the return of senior captain Zach Gazda, who had missed a month with a knee injury, even though he only played limited minutes in the contest.
In the second half, North Branch initially kept their lead, with the game sitting at 34-30 in their favor, but Chisago Lakes proceeded to go on a 23-9 run to end the game, toppling the Vikings with a strong second half. They used a familiar formula, with leading scorer Will Tinjum getting much of the offensive action and the rest of the burden being spread out. Their defense was up to the task against what has been a fast NB offense at times.
Chisago Lakes used their size to a huge advantage, outrebounding North Branch 41-29 and outscoring the Vikings 26-4 in the paint. North Branch went only three-of-17 on two point field goals.
Part of that was again the limited minutes played by Gazda, but part was just strong work ethic and hustle from CL’s post players in Tinjum, Andrew Koehler, Jackson Timm and Alex Paulsen. Tinjum led Chisago Lakes with 17 points on the night.
When the ‘Cats weren’t hammering NB down low, they hit outside shots with Seth Thompson, who was CL’s second leading scorer with eight points, and Ryan Sanvik, who netted five.
North Branch Head Coach Alex Kuhlman called the game “disappointing” afterwards.
“We were not able to execute well offensively throughout the entire game and just couldn't find the basket,” he said. “We have to get tougher before the next time we play them. They come out with great size and physicality and we have to be willing to match them physically.”
Drew VanEerden had 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Colby Knutson had 12 points and Gazda chipped in seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks in his abbreviated time.