After yielding the first score of the game, the Viking defense rose up and shut down Grand Rapids for the rest of the game, and the offense took over, scoring 30 unanswered points en route to a 30-7 win at home on Friday, Oct. 12.
The win means the Vikings still have an outside shot of getting a first-round bye for the Section 7AAAA playoffs. For this to happen, North Branch will have had to beat Proctor on Wednesday, Oct. 17. In addition, Hermantown will need to have topped Cloquet that same night. This would give the Vikings and Lumberjacks identical 6-2 records, with one of Cloquet’s losses coming to North Branch.
Even if that scenario doesn’t play out, North Branch is a lock for a home game in the opening round on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
The Vikings are finishing up their brutal regular season against bigger schools, touting a 22-4 regular season record. Last week, North Branch went five sets against Rogers before pulling off the win. They also went 3-1 in the Bloomington Jefferson tournament, taking second place.
In the Rogers match, North Branch jumped out to a 2-0 lead before allowing the Royals to win the next two sets. However, the Vikings righted themselves in the deciding set, winning 15-13. Besides Cianna Selbitschka’s usual efforts, Lydia Langevin picked up 13 kills and Paige Sheehan came up with 44 assists.
In the Jefferson tournament, North Branch swept both Bloomington teams and Park, Cottage Grove before getting swept by St. Louis Park in the championship match. Selbitschka had a huge tournament, picking up 47 kills and 43 digs. Lagevin added 17 kills, and Reagan Irons contributed 11 kills. It was Haley Hadrava’s turn to be the assist leader, picking up 77 assists.
The Vikings earned their best seed in a long time for the Section 7A tournament, with the #4 seed yielding a pair of home games. North Branch used that to their advantage with an opening round 2-1 win over Mesabi East, but then fell to #5 seed Hermantown two days later.
Jose Flor scored both goals in the win over the Giants, with one coming on a penalty kick thanks to a handball in the box call in the second half.
It was also a penalty kick that was the difference in the next game, but this time the call went against the Vikings. After a scoreless first half, the foul in the box was called at the 30-minute mark. It looked like the Vikings would survive the call as goalie Josh Hindt dove and stopped the penalty kick, but the side judge called that Hindt left the goal line early and awarded a second penalty kick, which was successful for the game’s only goal.
After battling Esko tough in the first half of their opening-round game, the Eskomos proved to be too hard to keep up with, scoring five goals in the second half to seal a 7-2 win and thus ending North Branch’s season.
Boys and girls cross country
Like the Bluejackets, North Branch will make Princeton their home for the final three meets of the season. In the first of those meets, the boys came in fifth and the girls came in ninth.
Individually, Joseph Nihart was the top finisher, coming in 12th. Cora Hudella was once again the leader for the girls, coming in 17th.