To say it was an uncharacteristic start to the season for the Lakeville North girls’ basketball team would be an understatement.

The Panthers, a perennial Class 4A power, were reeling at the start of winter break, having lost five of their past six games and sitting at just 2-5 after a 12-point loss to then top-ranked Eastview on Dec. 19.

“Those early losses,” coach Shelly Clemons said, “just felt like something was missing. We knew we could turn it around. We just needed to find it.”

That “it” was “players needed to find their roles,” she said.

It started with sophomore guards Temi Carda and Olivia Bruce, who have become “defensive stoppers,” Clemons said. The 5-6 Carda often matches up with the opponent’s top player.

The adjustment helped the Panthers win five consecutive games, including a 75-55 victory over Shakopee on Friday. The Panthers, 7-5 overall, are tied with Shakopee and Eagan for second place with 3-1 records in the South Suburban Conference, a game behind Eastview.

“Everyone has really started to hit their stride a bit and figure it out,” Clemons said.

Against Shakopee, Clemons matched up the 5-9 Bruce with Taylor Koenen, who has committed to play at North Carolina. Bruce held her to 18 points.

And getting a breather on defense, Carda exploded for 30 points.

“We’re feeling good now, and we’re just telling the girls to focus on one game at a time,” Clemons said. “We just have to keep bringing it.”

Hedin stays unbeaten

Rosemont junior Adam Hedin is the top-ranked 132-pound wrestler in Class 3A.

Last weekend he proved he’s among the best in the Midwest.

Competing in the 62-team Rumble on the Red in Fargo, N.D., Hedin went 5-0 to take home the title. He defeated a three-time state champion from South Dakota in semifinals and four-time state champion from North Dakota in finals. He’s now 17-0 on the season.

Top performers

• The Poehling brothers — senior twins, Jack and Nick, and sophomore Ryan — kept the top-ranked and unbeaten Lakeville North boys’ hockey team rolling last week, combining for 13 points in two South Suburban victories over Eastview and Prior Lake. Jack and Nick Poehling were tied for the team lead with 13 goals apiece heading into Tuesday’s game. Ryan Poehling is tied for third on the team with nine. All three have committed to play at St. Cloud State.

• Lakeville South’s Janna Haeg had 10 points in two victories last week for the Cougars girls’ hockey team. She scored a goal and had five assists against Rosemount on Jan. 6, and scored twice with two assists against Burnsville on Saturday.