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Girls basketball: Defense shines in first halves of back-to-back wins

Farmington allowed just 28 first-half points in two games.

Farmington came out playing some solid defense in the first half of both of its home wins at the end of last week.

The Tigers held Rochester Century to 15 points in the opening 18 minutes of last Thursday's 58-47 decision, then limited Hutchinson to 13 first-half points in Friday's 39-30 conference win.

Hutchinson shot just 25 percent from the floor, while Farmington connected on 38 percent of its shots in the slow-paced affair. The home team held a 10-point advantage at the break and Hutchinson never crawled back within five in the second half.

"I really think our kids have matured as basketball players over the past two weeks. I am not sure we would have won a game like this earlier in the year," Farmington coach Jason Berg said. "We did not panic on offense and really grinded it out on defense. It was awesome."

Junior guard Elena Koch worked her way inside the Hutchinson zone defense for a game-high 11 points. Taylor Meyer added nine points and Jamie Kenealy had six points, seven rebounds and four steals.

The Tigers held Century to 30 percent shooting and turned 31 turnovers into several easy transition baskets in Thursday's win over Century.

Farmington led 25-15 at the break, then held the Panthers off in the second half with the help of 14 of Meyer's game-high 17 points. The sophomore also grabbed nine boards, handed out four assists and grabbed three steals.

Koch just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds and Jordan Bridges scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots.

Senior Lauren McHenry added five points and nine assists and swiped six steals.

Shelby Calhoun added six rebounds and Isis Alexander had five assists and four steals. Both have seen more playing time since Paige Steele was lost for the season with an ACL injury, the most serious of several injuries the team has sustained in recent weeks.

"We are starting to get everyone healthy again, which allows everyone to fill roles they are comfortable with," Berg said.

With the section win, the 10-8 Tigers will likely open section tournament play with a home game the first week of March. There are six games left in the regular season, including three against ranked conference opponents -- Red Wing, Prior Lake and New Prague.