Eastview vs. Rosemount

5 p.m., Tuesday, March 2

Keeping up with the Joneses in the tough South Suburban Conference is no easy feat. And after losing four of their first six games, coach Lance Walsten and his Rosemount team turned around their season by forcing the Joneses to play at their pace.

“We’re growing and getting better,” Walsten said.

A lot better. Rosemount (9-4) takes a seven-game win streak that includes victories over No. 8-4A Lakeville North (65-56 on Feb. 12), No. 6-4A Shakopee (55-49 on Feb. 18) and a Lakeville South (56-54 on Feb. 26) squad that was once ranked in the top five into Tuesday night’s game at Eastview (12-1).

The Lightning could be without one of their top players, Jackson Purcell, who has missed the last couple of games, including the team's 52-46 loss last Friday at Lakeville North. Purcell averages 12.8 points a contest and is a jolt of energy to the No. 3-4A Lightning on both ends of the floor — when in the lineup.

Henry Shannon III, at 6-6, leads the Lightning in scoring at 17 points per game. Kenji Scales (13.8 ppg) and Zach Spann (9.6 ppg) also provide significant production. 

If Purcell isn't available, that could take some of the pressure off Rosemount’s Caleb Siwek, a 6-foot-2 junior who managed to reach his average of 20 points in a 56-44 loss at Eastview on Feb. 2, but was the only Irish player with more than seven points in that game.

Walsten said Rosemount’s fortunes changed when his team “locked down on the defensive end.” And that turnaround started with that loss to Eastview when the Irish held the Lightning to their lowest scoring total of the season.

Walsten favors a switching-style of defense and he has the versatile and athletic roster to use it effectively. “If you can switch, you can keep people out of the paint, and that makes it possible to take teams out of what they are trying to do offensively,” Walsten said.

Teddy Bellrichard, a 6-2 senior guard, is the perfect fit to Walsten’s defense. “He’s a Swiss Army knife of a player,” Walsten said. “He’s on the [opponent’s] best player every night. He can guard big or small.”

Senior point guard Sean Sullivan runs the offense and has recently, almost reluctantly, taken a bigger role in adding points to his assists. 

“He’s been a point guard his whole life and had that mentality that he’s setting things up,” Walsten said of Sullivan, who averages 10.1 points per game. “We’ve asked him to extend that and he’s had to adjust.”