by Brenda Erdahl Sports Editor The Irish girls basketball team won one and lost one on the road last week. On Thursday, Dec. 14, Maple Lake traveled to Kimball where the girls snagged their first Central Minnesota Conference win of the season by defeating the Cubs, 55-48. The perennially tough Eden Valley-Watkins proved too much for the Irish the next day, Friday, Dec. 15, despite a gritty performance by the Maple Lake squad. The Eagles claimed the 77-59 win. The Irish broke a five-year losing streak to the Cubs Thursday night after a sluggish start. Kimball pounded the ball into their 6-foot, 2-inch-tall post player and the Irish couldn’t stop her. Maple Lake found its shooting stroke from the perimeter and connected on four first-half, three-pointers to stay within striking distance. With just under a minute to play in the first half, the Irish decided to hold the ball for one final shot, despite being down by eight points. They executed perfect offense and Linsey Rachel buried a three-pointer to cut the Cubs’ lead to five at the break. The Irish utilized its full-court pressure, and some clutch perimeter shooting by Mackenna Brown and Mollie Scheiber led them on 12-0 run in the second half. Despite giving up some late three-pointers, the Maple Lake team held onto the win. Rachel led the charge with 21 points and 11 rebounds; Brown connected on four-of-seven three-point shots for 12 points; and Mollie Scheiber continued her strong play scoring 11 points for the Irish. “This was a big win for us on the road, having not beaten Kimball in over two years. We struggled to defend in the first half, but the girls really adjusted well and kept the ball out of the lane in the second,” coach Adam Ronnenberg said. The Eagles came into the game Friday evening as the preseason favorite to win the conference. The Irish played very determined in the first eight minutes of the game, leading by as many as five points, but Eden Valley-Watkins’ pressure forced the Irish into some tight turnovers that often led to baskets for the home team. The Eagles led 30-22 at the half. The Irish’s determination led to a 15-4 run in the second half and gave them the lead. They were up 41-38 with nine minutes to play when they ran out of gas. The Eagles continued to pressure the Irish defense and converted on nearly every hustle play down the stretch to win. Rachel continued to lead scoring for the Irish with 24 points, and as of Friday, was only 10 points away from the 1,000-point milestone. Brown poured in nine points for the Maple Lake team. “We would have loved to have one day of game prep prior to this one. Playing back-to-back conference games is difficult. I thought we played fearlessly for nearly 30 minutes, but just ran out of steam near the end. Despite the loss, I was impressed with our grit,” Ronnenberg said. Up next for the Irish is Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted at home on Thursday, Dec. 21.3The game starts at 7:15 p.m. On Wednesday, Dec. 27, Maple Lake will travel to Glencoe-Silver Lake for a 6 p.m. tournament.