More On North Branch and Hibbing
North Branch edged Hibbing 60-56 at North Branch on Saturday. Between the 2 clubs: • One senior scored 2 points • Juniors scored 38 points, 36 of them for North Branch • Sophomores scored 52 points, all for Hibbing •…
North Branch edged Hibbing 60-56 at North Branch on Saturday. Between the 2 clubs:
• One senior scored 2 points
• Juniors scored 38 points, 36 of them for North Branch
• Sophomores scored 52 points, all for Hibbing
• Freshmen scored 15 points, all for North Branch
• One 8th grader scored 9 points for North Branch
MVP—Sam Pederson was outscored by Abby McDonald 19-16 yet Pederson is our MVP. Already North Branch’s top scorer with 12, she then added the Vikings final 4 game-winning points. She also guarded McDonald most of the night. That proved to be tough duty but she was around the ball, making plays all day long at both ends of the court.
Best Play—McDonald tied things up at 56-all at about 1:15 with a shot she tried maybe 5 times where from a dead stop she takes a big step and puts up a one-hander from 5 to 10 feet out. Twice she had already used up her step and was called for traveling. The other 3 times the North Branch crowd went nuts, yelling for another travel call. Here she went from the left block toward the baseline with her left foot and put in the shot with the right hand. Keep in mind she’s 5-6 yet she was able to get off that 5 to 10 footer using this approach. But she hadn’t always kept an accurate accounting of whether she had a step left to use.
Best Offensive Performance—McDonald, obviously, with 5-of-11 3s and 6-of-12 2s and 2-of-2 FT.
Best Defensive Performance—Along with Pederson guarding McDonald, the key to North Branch’s win on the defensive end was 5-10 junior forward Jill Hoppe, who had 6 boards in the 1st half, then no boards but 3 blocked shots in the 2nd.
Best Under-the-Radar Performance—8th grader Carlson was active off the bench for North Branch. She wasn’t shy about shooting it or demanding the ball if she thought she was open. She scored on a dribble drive from the top of the key to give the Vikings a 9-point lead at 7:15, then blocked a Hibbing shot on the ensuing possession.
Best Underclassmen—But the best youngster was McDonald. She is just 5-6 but she is a gym rat with a nice instinctive feel for the game. She puts a good shot of mustard behind her passes from the point, and her 3-point range is as good as anybody’s. She did look tired in the 2nd half, coming up short on some shots down the stretch.
Best Player off the Bench—Carlson.
Best Rebounder—6-1 soph Lizzy Tuomi of Hibbing who totaled 11 boards, 6 of them on the offensive end, which led to 11 Hibbing points—she scored 9 of those 11 including a 2 + 1, while McDonald added 2 points after another Tuomi rebound.
Best Catch and Shoot—McDonald’s 3s mostly came on the catch-and-shoot.
The 2 teams are 10-21 between them, but both will be much better next year. Contending for a section title might be a little steep since Grand Rapids and Chisago Lakes are also young teams. North Branch does not have a senior on its roster, Hibbing has just one who plays. The Vikings are basically a junior team but with a terrific 9th grade class, too, while Hibbing is a sophomore team who will start 6-1, 6-1 and 6-0 up front next year.
And Another Thing…
Abby McDonald, Hibbing, 5-6, sophomore, point guard. A genuinely great shooter with NBA range and an instinct for the game that comes with the name McDonald.
Sam Pederson, 5-4, junior, guard and Savannah Linkert, 5-7, junior, wing, both North Branch. Both are grinders. Neither is super quick and neither is a 1, really, but both push and push and make hustle plays. They and their grinding are why North Branch won this game. I am shocked based on today’s play to see that Linkert averages almost twice as many points as Pederson (12 to 7). Pederson was the more aggressive today and created somewhat the better shots.
Lizzy Tuomi and McKenzie Maki, 6-1, sophomore, forwards, both Hibbing. Both are long (6-1) and lean and mobile for their age and their height. Tuomi is further along, mainly being stronger around the rim, but both can hit the mid-range jumper. Both fouled out. Tuomi got her 4th foul around 4 minutes and coach Dave LaCoe was heard to yell, “Move your feet.” A minute later she got her 5th foul when she didn’t execute an effective block on the defensive board. So there is room for growth. But , again, both are 6-1 and mobile, and shoot it with either hand and combined for 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
Cianna Selbitschka, North Branch, 5-9, freshman, guard, spent the entire game either sitting or playing with too many fouls. She is built like a wing and some observers thought she was playing out of position, especially as Pederson and Linkert look more like point guards. But Selbitschka is really the best ball-handler and the best, quickest passer of the 3. In fact, she is their best athlete, and I’m told she is a volleyball player first and basketball second.
Jill Hoppe, North Branch, 5-10, junior, forward. I am also shocked to find out that she is the Viking’s #2 scorer for the year at 10 ppg. She made just 2 of 5 today. But she added 6 boards and 3 blocked shots. She is not afraid to mix it up inside.
Katherine Carlson, North Branch, 5-7, 8th grade, guard. Carlson is aggressive and she is active. She scored 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting today. I was again surprised to discover she is her team’s #2 rebounder coming off the bench.
Kourtney Manning, Hibbing, 6-0, freshman, post. Played sparingly. In fact, her only entry in the play-by-play was one missed shot. But she is tall and lean and mobile, but needs to become more instinctive, quicker, more fluid. But there’s plenty of upside here.