Today was a Viking themed day. It was also a convoluted day. The epicenter of basketball today was at Kasson-Mantorville high school with six games. But with my having charted seven of the twelve, and four from last weekend in Rochester, it seemed like leftovers. So, my battle plan was to catch and early game and see the rematch of last year’s A final at KM: Minneota vs. Goodhue.
The convoluted portion is the changes in my plans. The first option fell through (they started earlier than advertised initially), but, when I checked around, I found North Branch had moved their game up to 1 pm from 2:30 which dovetailed into my 5 pm slot at KM. Ironic is it not?
The NB Vikings took a while to heat up in a 7AAA section game with Duluth Denfeld. NB led the whole game, but after six minutes the Vikings only led 13-11. The last twelve minutes set the tone for the rest of the game with NB finding their groove to the tune of 26-4. After my last two chartings with the team up at half squandering running time opportunities, I had my doubts. The NB starters, showcasing their balance with four players between 13-15 points, kept the heat on in the second half. With nine and a half minutes to go NB tacked on another 19-4 run. The NB starters clicked at 123.4 pp100. The Hunters struggled with decisions with the ball coughing it up 30 times—or ever 8.77 touches.
That was to be the last Viking win of the day.
Next up the newly minted AA Goodhue Wildcats, waiting since March to seek their revenge, used their hyperactive full court defense (or offense without the ball) to stop a 25 game winning streak of the Minneota Vikings. It was Minneota’s first loss since a 59-39 setback on the road to Brandon Valley, a Sioux Falls suburb, on February 5, 2019. Prior to that date Minneota had 18 straight regular season wins. This was their first loss to a Minnesota team since the 2018 state A semis to Lyle-Pacelli 53-41. I was their first loss to a class A team since December 27, 2017 to Springfield 44-41 at the SW MN State event.
This variety of Vikings were without senior Morgan Hennen, who was out with an ankle injury. The beginning of this contest saw Minneota’s Natalee Rolbiecki score a lay up off the tip. Goodhue soon asserted their will in tempo & pace. Unrelenting. Five of the next six possessions were turnovers for both teams as the intensity increased. The Vikings found a few holes in the press and were up 12-5, their biggest lead. But they were reacting to the pressure. It was a Goodhue stew: Pressure, physical, fast paced. Eventually that cognitive stress wears down a team that isn’t used to it (and is not at full strength). With 2:30 left in the half Goodhue led 23-20. By half the Wildcats extended that lead to 32-24 (8-4 run). With 14:21 remaining in the contest Goodhue was up 45-26 (another 13-2 run).
Minneota saw numbers similar to Denfeld’s (or even exceeded) with 37 turnovers. Minneota had a turnover every 9.86 touches. They shot much better from 2s than Goodhue. But Goodhue had 55 combined shots, Minneota had as many shot attempts as turnovers. Goodhue keeps their legs fresh with frequent substitutions. Goodhue had eight players with a steal. Tori Miller, off the bench, accumulated 7.
Now the question will be weather the AA teams in section 1 will crumble to the onslaught. Goodhue will be seeing familiar rivals in the postseason from the Hiawatha Valley League. No longer will they enjoy the diet of AAA/AA teams and then feast on A teams after February 20. The road is steeper, but the Wildcats have the mindset. The rest of class A is wiping their brow with thanks they won’t face that stress postseason this year.
The final Viking loss came in Santa Clara, California. When I pulled into the Home Federal Arena in KM, there were two large video screens with that game being shown inside. I could clearly see the action and close ups from my car. It was like I was at a double screen drive in movie.
Two top 100 teams were eliminated in my quest: NB & Goodhue. Minneota was at 101.
|NORTH BRANCH||DULUTH DENFELD|
|TOP SCORER||Two with 15||Selah Reinertsen 8|
TRENCH PLAYER: Katherine Carlson of NB with 15 points, 130 pp100, and a 34 score in the 31 Club.
|TOP SCORER||Arianna Thomforde 16||Natalee Rolbiecki 14|
TRENCH PLAYER: This is clearly a pick ‘em for Goodhue. The system rules. Today Joslyn Carlson had 12 points, 120.0 pp100, and a 21 score in the 31 Club and that gets the nod.