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Girls basketball: Senior-led Irish outlast Tigers, 51-42

Rosemount and Farmington both have similar profiles this season; teams in the neighborhood of .500, fighting it out in the middle of the South Suburban Conference pack.

But Rosemount has had the upper hand in recent years, and that experience helped the senior-led Irish pull away 51-42 when the two teams squared off last Thursday at Irish Gym. The Tigers stayed within two points of the Irish until halftime by shooting 57 percent from the field, but could only put up 17 points in the second half.

"Farmington is probably the most improved team in our conference and have been playing really well of late, so this was a good win for us," Rosemount coach Chris Orr said. "We played outstanding team defense and did a pretty good job of protecting the paint and forcing contested jump shots."

The Irish had better luck in the paint. With senior point guard Maddy Olson being held to 15 points, five below her season average, senior post players Katie Essen and Nicole Elias both provided big games. Essen scored 13 points and hauled in seven rebounds and Elias provided 11 points and six boards. Another senior, Alyssa Derby, added nine points, giving the Irish seniors 48 of the team's 51 points.

Sydney Blandin scored 16 points to pace the Tigers. Kaitlin Winston scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds and point guard Molly Mogensen scored seven points and handed out seven assists.

"We had chances to capitalize on defensive stops, but didn't execute on the offensive end," Farmington coach Liz Carpentier said.

The Irish opened the week with an all-too-familiar loss to Eastview last Tuesday. They led by 10 points early on, went into halftime still tied 22-22, but were eventually worn down by the Lightning in a 54-37 loss at Irish Gym.

"We played pretty well in the first half, especially on defense. In the second half we ran out of gas and could never find any rhythm on either end of the court and the game gradually got away from us," Orr said. "Offensively, we just didn't have much balance, and against a team like Eastview, you need multiple people to step up and put the ball in the hoop."

Olson scored 23 points to pace the Irish. She accounted for eight of the team's 13 made field goals.

Essen added five points and grabbed six rebounds in the loss. Lindsey Jalivay knocked down a pair of 3-pointers for six points.

The 1-1 week kept the Irish above the .500 mark at 9-8 going into their home game with Eastview Tuesday night.

Farmington slipped back to 9-9 after falling 64-59 on the road in a nonconference matchup Saturday in Owatonna. The Tigers led by as many as eight points early on, but ended up losing for the third time in four games, all by single digits.

"Again it came down to executing our offense in a close game. We had unforced turnovers, and they had some second-chance opportunities," Carpentier said. "We are learning and similar to other situations and games this week, it comes down to taking care of the ball and getting the right people involved in our offense."

Winston had another big game inside, grabbing 13 rebounds, but had to miss critical time late in the game due to foul trouble. Ellie Clayton paced the Tigers with 18 points. Mogensen scored 15, assisted on six baskets and grabbed six rebounds and Blandin added 14 points.

The Tigers opened last week with one of their best efforts of the season when they knocked off Prior Lake 68-65 at Tiger Gym. They led by as many as 17 points, but fell behind 59-57 late, before surging back ahead with three-straight scores.

Carpentier said her team's full-court pressure did its part in slowing down a high-scoring Prior Lake team.

"We were able to physically tire out our opponent which led to them missing some key shots late in the game. Our defense was solid for the most part," she said.

The offense also continued to show improvement, following up its highest point total of the season against Apple Valley four days earlier with its second highest. Blandin led the charge with 24 points. Sam Wiebold provided a spark off the bench with 14 points and Mogensen turned in a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She also provided six assists.

Clayton added nine points and dished out five assists.

"I'm very proud with our effort and more consistent play this week. We are still learning how to win close games, build leads and put teams away," Carpentier said. "It's a process and we are better than where we were at the beginning of the season."

The Tigers traveled Tuesday to Lakeville South and are back on the road Friday, Feb. 3, against Eastview in Apple Valley.