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Girls basketball: Signs of progress emerge vs. No. 3 North

As the Rosemount girls basketball team was finishing off a win against Burnsville last week, they saw some signs of promise for the tough road ahead.

The Irish had lost three games in a row and five of six. The South Suburban Conference schedule was again causing them problems.

Rosemount coach Sam McDonald knew it was significant the Irish pulled out a victory to snap its recent streak. McDonald also knows it was important they way they game unfolded.

"No doubt about it, we needed that win," McDonald said. "The nice part in getting it was the way in which we got it, which was playing very, very well. Not only did we need a win at that point, in playing well that was a good part of it too. We didn't play well and then needed to squeak one out. I thought we played well from the opening tap. It was a good sign because the girls had struggled in games leading up to that."

Rosemount beat Burnsville 75-61 last week before a 67-49 loss against Lakeville North. Even the loss to the No. 3-ranked Panthers wasn't going to end any momentum gained against the Blaze.

McDonald saw signs of progress against Lakeville North and hopes his Irish (8-10, 3-7 South Suburban) can build on a strong week with eight games remaining in the regular season.

"That's the hope," McDonald said. "We talked about it after the (Lakeville North) game. We were happy with the effort and most of the execution in stretches here and there. We need to sustain it. We had a good game against Burnsville and a good, quality effort against North."

Rosemount held an early lead against the Panthers, but Lakeville North slowly pulled away with a pressing and trapping defense.

Elaine Warner scored a team-high 16 points for the Irish and added five rebounds. Rachel Hoeppner and Brooke Stevens had 11 points apiece.

"We were playing hard all the way through," McDonald said. "And even though we were down, we made a few mini runs, nothing we could sustain. North is every bit the No. 3 ranked team they are. They are a really, really good basketball team. We competed with them that night. The scoreboard might not show it, but individually we played hard until the final buzzer."

Rosemount was on the other end against Burnsville, starting the game on a 16-0 run and leading 38-23 lead at halftime.

"We came out right from the beginning and really played well," McDonald said. "I was extremely pleased with that. From the get-go, we contained a couple of their better players and had an attention to detail with the kind of things we talked about pregame and what we were looking to do."

Hoeppner had 21 points on 9 of 14 shooting, hitting three 3-pointers. Warner had 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Stevens had 14 points and four steals.

"We thought Elaine played really well, both her rebounding ability and when she takes it to the basket goes a long way for us," McDonald said. "Rachel's just a really, really good shooter and we were able to get her open. Brooke Stevens and Laura Bodurtha really took care of the ball that evening and did a nice job getting the ball to the scorer. And they played good, attentive defense to guard their scorers. Everything was flowing really well."

Rosemount plays at Bloomington Jefferson tomorrow and hosts Prior Lake on Tuesday, Feb. 8.