In a sport where teams often combine to score over 100 points in a game, it can be a real treat to witness a matchup where just one point ends up being the difference.
One point was all that separated Eastview and Rosemount in last year's Class 4A, Section 3 championship game, as the Lightning clinched a spot in the state tournament with a 42-41 victory.
But each season brings new challenges, and for high school sports teams that often includes significant roster turnover. On Tuesday, in our Top Game of the Week, a new-look Eastview team clashes with a thriving Rosemount squad in the first meeting since the Lightning's thrilling section title victory.
After winning 25 games and clinching a section title last season, the Lightning (6-7, 4-2) have yet to be able to replicate the winning formula. Part of that likely stems from graduating four players who recorded points in the section championship triumph over Rosemount.
To turn things around, Eastview will need to spark some extra offensive production. In seven losses this season, the Lightning have averaged 43 points per game, while in wins they've scored more than 54 points per contest.
One player the Lighting rely on for offense is junior guard Cassidy Carson. A South Dakota commit, Carson averages 14.8 points per game and had a season-high 31 points on Dec. 10 in a 65-64 victory over Lakeville South.
While Eastview continues to break in its remodeled varsity lineup, many of Rosemount's returning players have used their experiences from last season as a springboard.
With only one senior listed on last year's roster, the Irish, ranked No. 6 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News from Jan. 8, have been able to rely on experience and continuity to produce wins.
Rosemount (12-1, 6-0) had no problem running through the first two months of the season, with its only blemish coming in a 80-45 loss to No. 1-4A Hopkins on Nov. 29.
The Irish stand out with their defensive play, as they've held teams to 51 points per game, and in six contests they limited their opponent to less than 50 points. The lowest point total they've allowed came on Nov. 30 in a 55-33 victory over White Bear Lake.
Leading Rosemount on offense is senior forward Taylor Janssen, a Montana State commit who averages 15.2 points per game. Janssen scored 20 or more points in wins against Lakeville South (59-55 on Jan. 7) and No. 2-4A Farmington (62-53 on Jan. 10) last week.