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Girls basketball: Rotary tournament capsules

ROCHESTER LOURDES (3-4) has had an atypical start with Tuesday’s 3-point win over Kenyon-Wanamingo snapping a 4-game losing streak, the longest in coach Myron Glass’s Hall of Fame career. The Eagles aren’t playing their trademark stingy defense, allowing 54 ppg which is nearly 10 more than a year ago. This Lourdes team doesn’t have the height or depth that previous teams have had, and injuries haven’t helped. Starting junior F Betsey Daly (10.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) was lost to a knee injury last week but could return in late January. Opponent are outrebounding the Eagles by an average 31-24. Leaders are a pair of senior G’s, Stephanie Helt (18 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.9 spg) and Hannah Anderson (13 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.7 spg), and freshman G Anna Branstad (6.4 ppg, 5 rpg). Anderson and Helt have combined for 20 of the team’s 25 3-pointers. "We have played every team close and had a chance to win every game," Glass said. "We are making progress; as these kids get older they are going to be really good." Lourdes finished fifth last year and is the last Rochester team to win the Rotary tournament, in 1997. The Eagles also won it in 1990 and 1992.

BLOOMINGTON JEFFERSON (0-6) has had a rough start and has only been really close in one loss so far, a 42-39 setback against Shakopee two weeks ago. It’s a shockingly slow start for a Jaguars team finished 20-8 last year and played Edina tough in a 8-point loss in the Section 2AAAA semis. Jefferson is allowing over 61 ppg and scoring just 42. The leading scorers are a pair of guards, senior Brittney Scherber (15.8 ppg) and junior Brooke Fritzlar (9.2 ppg). No other players average over 5 ppg. Jefferson is back in the Rotary tournament after a long absence; the Jags won it in 1993 and 1995. The Jaguars are coached by Andy Meinhardt.

ROCHESTER MAYO (5-2) has won five straight after an 0-2 start and sits atop the Big Nine Conference at 4-0. One of Mayo’s early losses was against Edina, No. 2 ranked in AAAA. Mayo also had some injury issues early that sidelined a few starters. The Spartans have played the toughest defense (44 ppg) in the conference so far, with a tall and athletic inside presence that usually gives them a rebounding edge. The leaders are 6-1 senior C Lauren Ulsh (12.2 ppg) and 6-0 junior F Rachael Doll (8.5 ppg), with 6-0 senior F Anna Lundquist (6 ppg) coming off the bench. Junior G Sam Miller (6.6 ppg) is now the playmaker after a preseason injury sidelined returning PG Ann Flesher. "We have kept our turnovers down and have had good shot selection," said coach Angie Meister. "Our inside shooting has really improved since the start of the season."  Mayo finished sixth at the 2010 Rotary tournament and has won it twice, in 1994 and 1996. 

PROVIDENCE ACADEMY (5-3) makes its debut at the Rotary tournament but it’s not the first time for head coach Ray Finley, who had Blake here in the mid 1990’s, and Breck in the early 2000’s. Providence Academy is a 10-year-old private Catholic school in Plymouth; Finley is in his fourth year as coach and took the Lions to their first Class AA state tournament last season. They took fourth at state and finished 26-6. The Lions are ranked No. 1 despite three defeats, which have all been against top-10 ranked Class AAA or Class AAAA teams. One loss was 45-22 in the season opener against Lakeville North, which is the two-time defending Rotary champ. Providence, playing in the Tri-Metro West Conference for the first time, is averaging 48 ppg but allowing just 42. The leaders are 6-foot senior AnnMarie Healy (12 ppg), junior G Nathatlie Ratliff (12 ppg) and senior F Katie Nordick (10 ppg). Nordick (Dartmouth) and Healy (Harvard) are Ivy League recruits.

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ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL (3-5) halted a 3-game losing skid with Thursday’s 14-point win over Albert Lea which is 0-9. The Rockets are 1-4 in Big Nine Conference play. JM is allowing too many points (57.5 ppg) for coach Terry Heiderscheit’s comfort. Two players are doing most of the scoring, junior F Katelyn Rushton (13.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg) and 6-foot C Jamie Ruden (12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg). Ruden is an 8th-grader coming off a double-double against Albert Lea. Junior G Clair Kingsley (4.5 ppg, 9 3’s) leads the team in three-pointers. No other players are averaging over 4 ppg. "We are a mixed bag as far as experience goes and it shows when we play," said Heiderscheit, who needs 12 wins to reach 300 for his career. "The girls are great kids and work hard but need to learn to play with more urgency on defense and be more assertive going after rebounds and loose balls." JM went 0-3 at last year’s Rotary tournament and has never won it.

WHITE BEAR LAKE (5-3)has a pedestrian record but don't be fooled; two losses were to Edina and Roseville which are a combined 14-0 and ranked No. 2 and No. 8 in Class AAAA. The Bears played Edina tough before losing 59-52 earlier this week. WBL also beat DeLaSalle and Eastview at the season-opening Hamline tournament; DeLaSalle is No. 3 in Class AAA. This is a young team with only two seniors including leading scorer Alexis Foley (16.5 ppg). Junior twins Haley Hobbs (10 ppg) and Tarah Hobbs (8.3 ppg) are the next leading scorers. WBL, coached by Jeremy Post, made its first Rotary appearance last year and fell in the championship game to Lakeville North, 61-44.

ROCHESTER CENTURY (6-2)enters the tournament on a four-game winning streak and is 4-1 in the Big Nine Conference with the one loss to Mayo. It's a good start for a team that finished under .500 last season at 12-14. The Panthers are proving to have one of the highest-scoring teams in Big Nine at 61 ppg, and are led by one of the top scorers in freshman guard Kanani Asuncion (21 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.5 apg, 3 spg). The other emerging scorer and top rebounder is junior F Morgan Hartman (12 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Four others average between 4-6 ppg and the bench is providing about 20 ppg, which has been a strength. The Panthers have played tough defense averaging 16 steals per game, and that has fueled some offense. Second-year head coach Chris Stenzel said this is "a very young and inexperienced but very talented team" with three freshmen starters. Century took third at last year's Rotary tournament and has never won it.

LAKEVILLE NORTH (5-3) is the two-time defending Rotary tournament champion and has won it seven times in the last 11 years under head coach Andy Berkvam (the first three times as Lakeville, and the last four as Lakeville North). North is ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA with one returning starter, junior G Taylor Stewart (16 ppg, 4 apg), from the team that finished third at state in March with a record of 29-3. Four other players average between 6-9 points including two tall girls, 6-2 senior C McKenzie Hoelmenn and 6-0 junior F Simone Kolander. Kolander was named Metro Soccer Player of the Year; Hoelmenn has signed to play basketball at Northern Illinois. The Panthers' three losses so far have been to Hopkins, Edina and Eden Prairie, the Nos. 1, 2 and 6 ranked teams in Class AAAA. "We have six seniors that have waited patiently for two years to see varsity action and all are playing significant roles now," Berkvam said. North produced the last two Ms. Basketball award winners, center Cassie Rochel in 2009-10, and guard Rachel Banham last season. Rochel is now playing at the University of Wisconsin and Banham with the Minnesota Gophers.
 
— Donny Henn

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