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Girls basketball: Staying competitive

Rosemount's Rachel Hoeppner dribbles left during last week's home game against Apple Valley. The Irish lost both games last week as they slipped to 8-12.

The Rosemount girls basketball team endured perhaps its lowest point of the season when it suffered a 65-36 home loss against Bloomington Jefferson at the beginning of January.

Irish coach Sam McDonald knew brighter days were ahead for his team. Rosemount worked to put the loss in the past quickly as possible.

Last week, McDonald realized how far his Irish have come with a rematch against the Jaguars.

Rosemount went on the road and lost at Bloomington Jefferson, yet provided a stronger challenge.

"The first time we played them, they really put it to us," McDonald said. "It was one of our worst outings I thought. Last Friday, we competed very well. We were down a majority of the game, but we kept plugging in there and hanging around. We made a little bit of a run and got within about five points with a minute or two left and they hit a couple of big driving lay-ups late in the game that really got us."

Rosemount entered this week on a three-game losing streak after a 70-65 loss at home against Apple Valley and the Bloomington Jefferson defeat.

"In both of the games I thought we competed very well," McDonald said. "Sometimes that feels like a song and dance a little bit when you lose both games, but I did think we competed well. About the only time I get a little uptight at any point with the team are outings when we are a little lethargic. We've had a couple of those this year. Every team has a couple of those. But that certainly hasn't been the case lately. We're just coming up a bit short. We have to hang in there and keep plugging away until the breaks start going our way."

The first time around against Bloomington Jefferson the Irish were still shorthanded, playing without leading scorer and rebounder Elaine Warner at the time.

Warner had 10 points and six rebounds last week. Rachel Hoeppner added 13 points and three assists.

In the loss against Apple Valley, Brooke Stevens led the way with a team-high 17 points to go with six rebounds, five steals and five assists.

Laura Bodurtha contributed 14 points and four assists. Warner finished with 13 point and seven rebounds.

"It was back and forth throughout," McDonald said. "They had a couple of players make some nice plays down the stretch and executed their stuff better than we did."

With the recent improvement, the Irish (8-12, 3-9 South Suburban) are looking to the final three weeks of the season.

"We're hoping that we're still building towards playing some of our best ball," McDonald said. "Certainly we've put a few games in a row where we've played pretty well. We need consistency. We just need to finish these games and make the final push at the end of a game to see if we can find a couple of 'Ws' which will lead to some confidence and feeling good about ourselves as a team."

Rosemount plays at Lakeville South tonight.