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Girls basketball: Eagles' pressure gets to Irish in section tourney

There was no fighting what had become obvious for coaches when the Rosemount girls basketball team was named the No. 6 seed in the Class 4A, Section 3 tournament. Irish coach Sam McDonald knew the seeding would turn out the way it did.

A late-season slide had slipped Rosemount into the sixth seed.

Yet, going into the start of the tournament last week, the Irish didn't feel like a normal No. 6 seed facing a No. 3 seed.

"I thought it was the best matchup of the first round even though it was a three seed and a six seed," McDonald said.

Rosemount could draw inspiration from its own results against No. 3 seed Apple Valley. The Irish had beaten the Eagles earlier in the season.

However, as also happened too often during the regular season, Rosemount suffered from its season-long struggles handling the ball, finishing with too many turnovers in a 68-58 loss at Apple Valley.

Elaine Warner led the Irish with 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Lindy Parker scored 11 points and tallied eight rebounds.

Rosemount ended the season with a 9-18 record after the loss. Despite the record, the Irish entered last week's contest with confidence.

"We thought we could win," McDonald said. "We discussed it as we got toward the game about how we split with them this season. We knew they were the three seed and we were the six seed, but we knew we split with them and both games were played well by both teams. Just as they thought they could win, we felt we could win, too.

"When it's that close, it always comes down to handling adversity, and executing on defense and offense. Apple Valley did that better than us."

Rosemount's adversity came in the way of ball control, as it has for much of the season. The Irish turned the ball over 14 times against the Eagles.

"It came down to our year-long nemesis, turnovers," McDonald said. "Once their guards turned up the pressure defensively, we just didn't match that intensity in taking care of the ball or making the good pass or good play."

Rosemount led 10-6 before the defensive pressure allowed Apple Valley to take control. The Eagles led by as much as 18, before the Irish countered.

In the second half, Rosemount cut the deficit to seven but couldn't complete the comeback.

"I was really happy in the end, a silver lining, in respect that we made a real run at them late," McDonald said. "We didn't make enough plays down the stretch.

At times this season, the Irish were undone by poor stretches and it cost them again last week.

"Rarely does any team put a full 36 minutes together," McDonald said. "Every team has lulls. Some lulls go longer than others. If you keep those lulls to just a couple of plays here and there instead of series of possessions, that's always the difference between a team winning and a team struggling."

Rosemount's Hannah Grim finished with eight points. Rachel Hoeppner and Laura Bodurtha each scored seven points. Hoeppner added five assists and three steals.