The Vikings are starting to find their stride as the regular season rounds the bend towards the finish line. North Branch picked up three wins last week, creating a four-game winning streak.
The first win of the week was the biggest, as North Branch traveled to section foe Pine City and topped the Dragons 5-3. The Vikings and Dragons, along with Monticello, are neck and neck and neck with each other in the section standings.
The two teams alternated goals throughout the first and second periods, leading to a 3-3 tie entering the third. However, a pair of Joey Kerchner goals, with the last one completing the hat trick, secured the win for the Vikings.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, North Branch jumped out to a 3-0 lead over St. Francis, but saw the Saints close the gap by scoring two before the Vikings sealed the win with an empty-net goal and a 4-2 win. Kerchner picked up another two goals in the game.
The final win of the week was a much easier one as the Vikings routed Becker-Big Lake 10-3. Tucker Sachs picked up the hat trick, with Lawton Garin, Matt Dekanick and Cody Croal scoring twice.
The Vikings now sit with a 15-4 season record.
The Vikings picked up a nice conference win last week, topping host Becker 133.5-130.975. North Branch earned three season-high scores in the meet, with Ceriann Istanovich earning an 8.675 on floor, Dakota Esget a 9.0 on floor and Bekah Fish scoring an 8.625 on beam. Esget also earned first place in the all-around with a 34.4.
The Vikings faced a pair of neighbor foes last week, falling to Cambridge-Isanti, but rallying to beat Chisago Lakes.
In the game against the Jackets, C-I jumped out to a 38-23 lead, extending their lead for a final score of 73-47. Paige Peaslee had a solid game, picking up 20 points, with Megan Bunes and Kate Carlson adding 11 points each.
Two nights later, the Vikings had to make up for a slow start to accomplish the come-from-behind 37-35 win over the Wildcats. Peaslee contributed nearly half of North Branch’s points, scoring 17 including the two that put North Branch in front for good late in the game.
Despite being in the midst of a long losing streak, the Vikings have showed grit in battling tough every single game. That grit was evident in their 94-64 loss to Cambridge-Isanti on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Despite getting considerably behind early to the fast-paced Jacket offense, North Branch battled back to within two points in the second half before the Jackets went on another run to clinch the win. Trevor Johnson had a strong game, picking up 22 points, with Carter Whitman adding 14.
Two nights later, it was a similar story as North Branch battled back from a 40-30 halftime deficit to get within three points in the second half, only to have the Wildcats go on a run to extend the lead and put the game away. A last-minute rally cut the Chisago Lakes lead in half, but that was as close as the Vikings could get in a 74-69 loss. Trevor Johnson led the team with 22 points and Whitman added 18 in the loss.
In their home debut of the season, the Vikings fell to neighbor Chisago Lakes 48-32. Two days later, North Branch had an extremely satisfying showing at the Grand Rapids Skip Nalan Invitational, earning fifth place as a team.
The Vikings had five wrestlers place in the top three of their weights. Brandt Bombard (138 pounds), Austin Sonnek (152 pounds) and Caleb Norwig (220 pounds) each took second. Josh Logan (132 pounds) and Ashton LaBelle (145 pounds) took third.