Ultimate underdogs reach section final

Rosemount to play No. 1-ranked Apple Valley for place at state

Rosemount’s Garrett Goetz goes to the basket against Henry Sibley in the Section 3-4A boys basketball semifinals. Goetz scored 25 points in the Irish’s 82-75 overtime victory. (Photo by Mike Shaughnessy)

Rosemount’s Garrett Goetz goes to the basket against Henry Sibley in the Section 3-4A boys basketball semifinals. Goetz scored 25 points in the Irish’s 82-75 overtime victory. (Photo by Mike Shaughnessy)

Rosemount has not been to the state boys basketball tournament since 1987, and if the Irish make it this year it would be one of the most improbable high school sports stories in recent memory.

But the Irish already are accustomed to doing the improbable in the Section 3-4A playoffs.

They knocked off No. 2 seed East Ridge in the quarterfinals. Saturday, they beat Henry Sibley 82-75 in overtime after tying the game on Jeremy Macchitelli’s turnaround three-pointer with two seconds remaining in the second half.

That put Rosemount, 9-19 overall, one victory from the state tournament. The Irish will face Apple Valley, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and on a 26-game winning streak, in the section championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Burnsville High School.

The winner will play in the state Class 4A quarterfinal Wednesday, March 20, at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

Logan Halvorson of Rosemount looks for a path to the basket in the Section 3-4A boys basketball semifinals against Henry Sibley. (Photo by Mike Shaughnessy)

Logan Halvorson of Rosemount looks for a path to the basket in the Section 3-4A boys basketball semifinals against Henry Sibley. (Photo by Mike Shaughnessy)

“We’re putting the ball in the hoop a lot more efficiently,” said Macchitelli, who scored 22 points against Sibley. “In these two playoff games, we’ve scored higher than we have all season. We seem to be more fluid and we’re playing better as a team.”

Rosemount led by as many as 12 points in the first half of Saturday’s game against Sibley and trailed by as many as 11 in the second half. The Irish got back in the game and trailed 63-60 when they called a timeout with 7.9 seconds remaining.

Following the timeout, Rosemount got the ball to Macchitelli in the corner but two Sibley players converged on him almost immediately. With nowhere to pass the ball and the clock ticking, he turned, leaped and shot – and watched it hit all net.

Rosemount scored the first 11 points of overtime, effectively punching its ticket to the section final.

“It was the play we had called,” Rosemount coach Bryan Schnettler said of the game-tying basket. “We wanted to get it to one of our three-point shooters, Jeremy or Cole Northwick. Jeremy came off a screen and was open in the corner, but (the Sibley players) closed on him really fast.”

“I’m a senior. I wanted the game in my hands,” Macchitelli said. “I like that challenge.”

Rosemount’s Sean Kalinowski (right) guards Henry Sibley’s Nick Golberg during Saturday night’s Section 3-4A boys basketball semifinal game in Burnsville. (Photo by Mike Shaughnessy)

Rosemount’s Sean Kalinowski (right) guards Henry Sibley’s Nick Golberg during Saturday night’s Section 3-4A boys basketball semifinal game in Burnsville. (Photo by Mike Shaughnessy)

Junior guard Garrett Goetz had a team-high 23 points against Sibley. Northwick, a junior guard, added 16 points and senior forward Sean Kalinowski had 10.

Northwick had 18 points and Goetz 16 in Rosemount’s 67-62 section quarterfinal victory at East Ridge on March 6.

Rosemount beat two teams with 18 victories in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Irish appear to have caught a second wind after struggling to a 5-13 record in the South Suburban Conference.

“Our conference is very good,” Schnettler said. “Us and (Bloomington) Jefferson finished with five wins in the conference and we’re both in section championship games.”

The Irish know plenty about Apple Valley, a team that beat them 74-53 and 86-61 in two regular-season SSC games.

Asked how the Irish will try to match up with Apple Valley this time, Schnettler laughed and said, “I have no idea. But we have time to think about it – four days to practice and a day off. We’ll try to come up with something. You never know what can happen, and we’re happy to have this opportunity.”

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