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Girls basketball: Tiger defense steps up vs. Sabers

Farmington guard Isis Alexander drains a long jump shot late in the first half of Friday's blowout win over Shakopee at Tiger Gym.

After a performance head coach Jason Berg said lacked energy last Tuesday against Chanhassen, Farmington cranked its defense up a notch to close out the week with back-to-back wins.

The Tigers allowed 53 points against the Storm -- the second most they've allowed in a game this season -- in losing their first home game of the season by three points. They responded by holding Hastings to 12 field goals in a 51-34 road win Thursday. The Tigers then returned to Tiger Gym Friday for a crucial Missota Conference game against Shakopee and held the Sabers to 12 field goals and 24 percent shooting in a 46-32 triumph.

"By far our best defensive effort of the year -- especially in the first half where we forced 10 turnovers and limited them to 4 of 15 field goals and only seven rebounds," Berg said of the Shakopee game. "Big win versus a team that beat us the first time and it still gives us a chance to win the conference."

New Prague and Chanhassen lead the Missota Conference standings with matching marks of 8-2, while Farmington and Shakopee sit tied for second at 7-3. Chanhassen closes the season with road games at New Prague and Red Wing, and New Prague still has to travel to Shakopee before closing the regular season with a game at Farmington on Feb. 25. If the Tigers get some help from Red Wing and New Prague, that game against the Trojans could decide the conference championship.

The Tigers jumped out to an 8-0 lead and never trailed in Friday night's win over Shakopee.

Taylor Meyer scored a game-high 17 points, including 14 in the first half, and grabbed six rebounds.

Elena Koch dropped in 10 points and claimed eight rebounds and Jordan Bridges chipped in with eight points and seven boards. Each player blocked two shots.

Bridges made 10 of 15 shots en route to a season-high 24 points in Thursday's road win at Hastings. She also grabbed eight rebounds, helping the Tigers to a 31-20 edge on the glass.

Meyer added seven points, four rebounds and five assists.

The Tigers (18-3) brought in 22 offensive rebounds, but struggled making shots from close range in last Tuesday's 53-50 loss to Chanhassen.

They also struggled at the free-throw line, making 5 of 14 shots, and turned the ball over 23 times.

The team struggled defensively as well, allowing the Storm to shoot 40 percent from the field.

"We gave up way too many uncontested jump shots -- most due to defensive breakdowns," Berg said. "We had more defensive breakdowns in this game than we have had all year."

Meyer and Bridges each recorded double-doubles. Meyer scored 11 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out six assists, while Bridges scored 10 points, hauled in 11 rebounds, blocked three shots and grabbed three steals.

Koch tallied a team-high 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and swiped four steals.