Because of a rare Monday night game last week (see last week’s edition for those results), the Vikings only had one other game scheduled for the week as teams are still only allowed two games per week to be played.
That game was against Hibbing, which North Branch lost 66-48. North Branch kept the score close throughout the first half, trailing 29-25 at the break. But the northern Bluejackets came out fast in the second half, extending the lead and eventually claiming the 18-point win. Trevor Johnson was the only Viking to hit double digits, scoring 10.
The Vikings girls cagers were in the same position as the boys, as their first of two weekly games took place on a Monday night. So their only game of the week turned out to be at Brooklyn Center, which they won 73-41.
Fresh off scoring her 1,000th career point the game before, Kate Carlson had a huge game, earning a triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists in the game. Maddie Helin was the top scorer for North Branch with 22 points. Ella Kuhlman also reached double-digits in scoring with 16.
Entering the season with a total of only seven gymnasts, the Vikings knew that avoiding injuries would be their top priority, which is something that is unavoidable in such a physically demanding sport. Unfortunately, those numbers have been decreased by one as Libby Nielsen has been sidelined with a back injury, and Ceriann Istvanovich has been nursing a hand injury that has limited the senior from competing in every event.
The offshoot of the injuries is the depleted Vikings fell to Monticello last week 134.550 - 132.175. Despite the loss, North Branch had several positives come out of the meet as Dakota Esget took first on the bars with a 9.1, Bekah Fish took first on beam with an 8.95, and Esget concluded the meet with a first-place 9.15 floor routine. Esget and teammate Paige Bauer wound up going 1-2 in the all-around, with the 8th-grader scoring a season-high 35.375 and the senior scoring a 34.175.
For the second week in a row, this season’s crazy schedule hurt the Vikings as they found themselves playing on back-to-back nights. And for the second week in a row, one of those games wound up going into overtime to boot.
In the first game of the week, North Branch battled a much-improved Becker/Big Lake team who has been giving some teams fits this year, with the game being undecided with a 6-6 tie. The game was deadlocked at 2-2 after one period, and North Branch held a 4-3 lead after two. But three Becker/Big Lake goals in the third forced the Vikings to play catchup, with Tucker Sachs sending the game into overtime with just under three-and-a-half minutes to play. That score was Sachs’ third of the game to lead North Branch in scoring.
The following night (or actually mid-afternoon), North Branch lost to Mound Westonka 6-4. In that game, the White Hawks exploded for five goals in the second period to secure the win.
The Viking grapplers continue to have to stay focused on individual results within the unique “team matches only” format of this season. Because they are unable to field wrestlers at a majority of the varsity weights, North Branch has gone winless on the season after falling last week 45-19 versus Big Lake, 33-13 versus Hibbing, 48-23 versus Milaca, and 60-23 to Onamia.
North Branch’s middle weights of Josh Logan, Ashton LaBelle, and Brandt Bombard continue to carry the team’s scoring. Each of them earned three wins last week, with the individual results of the Hibbing match being unrecorded.
Northern Tier girls hockey
The Stars claimed one win, but also lost once last week while going up against a pair of teams from the north.
The win came against Moose Lake by a score of 4-2. The Stars jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two periods before the Rebels drew within one in the third. A late Stars goal gave the home team the two-goal win. Jasmyn Sibell had half of the Stars’ goals in the game.
The loss came against the Duluth Northern Stars by a score of 3-1. After Duluth took a 2-0 lead, Jenna Hari cut that lead in half in the second period, but that was as close as the “southern” Stars could get.