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Boys basketball: Looking for ball security

Rosemount junior guard Evan Mitchell shoots a mid-range jumper in the first half of last week's home loss to Burnsville.

With the section playoffs on the horizon, Rosemount boys basketball coach Bryan Schnettler has been hoping his team would finally put all of the pieces together and be playing its best basketball at the end of the season.

Early in the season, Schnettler praised the team's defense, but was waiting for the offense to fall in line.

Lately, the team's shooting has improved. Yet, with the section tournament beginning next week, maybe the most important factor to the Irish's success has yet to come around - ball security.

"It is the last piece of the puzzle," Schnettler said. "Look at our record, it's not very good. We've had a lot of close games and it comes down to the last possession, two possessions or three possessions. When you turn it over as much as we have, those possessions are magnified. It's tough to come out on top when you average 19.6 turnovers a game."

Last week, Rosemount (6-18, 3-13 South Suburban) lost two more close games, running their losing streak to eight games. The Irish lost 60-58 at No. 7 ranked Eagan and then had a 55-49 loss at home to Burnsville.

Again, the outcomes could have been different, but Rosemount had over 20 turnovers in each game.

"I don't know what it really is," Schnettler said. "We're just not very tough with the ball."

Against the ranked Wildcats, the Irish couldn't come up with a signature win despite shooting 59.4 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line on 15 of 18 shooting. They finished with 24 turnovers and lost by two points at the buzzer.

Matt Nelson had a team-high 15 points. Evan Mitchell added 10 points.

"We played very, very well except the 24 turnovers," Schnettler said. "If we could cut those turnovers by two, we would have won that game. If we cut them down to 15 or under, we win going away. I told the guys if we play that well at sections and cut those turnovers to 15 or under, we'll be in very good shape."

Rosemount had 21 turnovers against Burnsville.

The defense held the Blaze to 55 points, the lowest total allowed by the Irish since Feb. 4 against Bloomington Jefferson, but Schnettler knows the defense is put in a bad position by the turnovers.

"We've had some very good moments on defense and had some poor moments too," Schnettler said. "That's hasn't been the issue. When you turn it over as much as we do, it leads to transition points and makes the other team hard to guard. The turnovers also hurt on defense, leading to easy buckets for opponents."

Mitchell scored 17 points and hit three 3-pointers. Brandon Forcier had nine points and Andrew Nelson chipped in with six points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.

Rosemount ends the regular season tomorrow night against Apple Valley. The seeding for the section tournament is this weekend, with the playoffs starting on Tuesday.