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Girls basketball: Lightning strike again in section finals

A 14-minute field goal drought in the middle of the game was too much for Rosemount to overcome against top-seeded Eastview in last Thursday’s Section 3AAAA finals.

The Irish saw their early 12-11 lead turn into a 33-13 halftime deficit courtesy of a 22-1 Lightning run and the hole proved too big to climb out of in a season-ending 59-49 loss at Hutton Arena in St. Paul.

“Eastview is very good defensively. Their length really was giving us issues and clogged up the paint. It didn’t help that we became stagnant and didn’t move off the ball,” Rosemount coach Chris Orr said. “Basketball is a very hard game when the ball doesn’t go in the hoop. We had some good looks during that stretch, but we picked the worst time to have our biggest drought of the season.”

The loss left the Irish with a record of 17-12. It was the third straight year the Irish’s seven-member senior class had their season come to an end against Eastview in the section finals. The group led the team to a 52-35 record the last three seasons.

“Like I told them in the locker room after the game, I could go on and on, but to sum it up in one word, they are special,” Orr said. “These seven seniors accomplished a lot. Yeah, we didn’t win a conference championship or make it to state, but we did make it to section championship three years in a row, which has never been done before in school history… Besides their efforts on the court they have also been amazing role models off the court as well as many of them are multi-sport athletes, involved in many other clubs and activities as well at RHS and in our community. Plus they’re pretty special in the classroom as well between the seven seniors they have an average GPA of 3.53.”

How highly Orr regards his seniors made it especially important for him to be there to coach them one final time. He had suffered a heart attack six days earlier, forcing him to miss the team’s upset of ninth-ranked Apple Valley, but was able to return to the sideline for the section finals. The usually animated coach did his best to sit down as much as possible and not get too fired up, although he did have a couple of chats with the officials during timeouts.

“It was awesome to be back on the bench. I did get excited a couple times, but it was the best I felt since my health scare,” Orr said. “It was definitely different not being up, but my assistants have been outstanding and we were really confident in the plan that we had for the game.”

That plan worked better in the second half when the Irish made up some ground and outscored the Lightning, 36-26.

“We should’ve played with that sense of urgency and aggressiveness all game, but it I wouldn’t expect anything else from this group as far as responding to adversity,” Orr said.

Senior 1,000-point scorer Maddy Olson drove to the hoop for a layup in the closing minutes for the last of her team-high 16 points. Senior Lindsey Jalivay knocked down four three-pointers for 12 points and senior Katie Essen scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Senior Alyssa Derby and Helen Staley each added six points.

Eastview takes a 23-6 record into the Class 4A state tournament.