Forest Lake's Abby Moeller dives for a loose ball against Maria Ascher of Roseville.
An experienced Roseville girls' basketball team doesn't falter under pressure. After losing four games by a combined 12 points last season, the Raiders have turned those tough losses into victories.
"What can we do to win?" Roseville forward Larissa Graham said, describing the team's mentality when trailing in the final minutes Tuesday night at Forest Lake.
The more the Raiders considered the question, the more productive they became, rallying for a 54-48 victory which extended their winning streak to 18 games.
A back-and-forth, close finish is something the Raiders (19-1) aren't used to this season. They had won by fewer than 10 points only four times and had trailed at halftime only twice. Forest Lake led 28-24 at halftime.
Unfamiliarity with such situations didn't shake their composure, though. Graham, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half and Allison Cordes were instrumental in a 17-8 run to start the second half.
Cordes' three-pointer gave the Raiders an eight-point lead with 10:53 left. Then Roseville was tested again.
Building around Bailey Norby's 21 points, and surviving without recently injured point guard Emily Peters, Forest Lake (14-5) put together its own 13-2 run to retake the lead, 46-43.
The experience of Roseville, ranked No. 4 in Class 4A, took over from there, while the Rangers began to wear down. Forest Lake scored only two points in the final 5:20 in losing its first home game.
"We controlled a lot of the pace to be able to stay close with them," Norby said, "but we were getting tired and had some mental lapses."
The first time these teams met, Roseville controlled the tempo on its home court and comfortably secured a 16-point victory.
More than a month had passed since the last meeting, including 13 victories in a row for the Raiders.
Roseville's depth has been a big factor in the winning streak that dates to Dec. 7. Coach Jeff Crosby's regular rotation of nine girls for Roseville helps keep his players fresh and spreads out the production. Jacqlyn Poss led the way Tuesday night with 18 points.
"We're intermixable," Cordes said. "We each have our own strengths and weaknesses and we pick each other up."