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Boys basketball: Irish upset way to title game

Whether it was after Rosemount's five-game losing streak in mid-December, its six-game skid in February or its 40-point home loss in the final game of the regular season, head coach Bryan Schnettler was always quick to point out that his team's primary mission was to be playing its best by the time the Section 3AAAA tournament rolled around.

It's that approach that now has Rosemount, after a 7-19 regular season, playing to go to the state tournament tomorrow night in Burnsville. The Irish opened section play by rebounding from a 31-point effort against Prior Lake by exploding for 44 points in the second half in a 67-62 upset of No. 2 seed East Ridge last Wednesday in Woodbury. The hot shooting continued Saturday in Burnsville where the Irish splashed 13 three-pointers in an 82-75 overtime victory over 18-8 Henry Sibley.

"We have talked all year long about wanting to be at our best in March and we seem to be doing just that," Schnettler said. "The guys are more focused, confident, and are smiling more than they have all year. There is something special going on with this group right now and our coaching staff is very proud of them for not giving up. This past week we had the best practices we had all year and we are looking forward to continuing it this week as we prepare for Valley."

Valley is No. 1-ranked Apple Valley, which has won 26 straight games, including two over the Irish by scores of 74-53 and 86-61 during its undefeated South Suburban Conference run. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Burnsville High School.

"Valley is a very talented team and we are very much looking forward to the chance to play them to go to state. We will have to slow down their transition game and continue to take great shots like we have in our first two section games," Schnettler said. "It will be a great experience for our guys and the way we are playing now there is absolutely no reason to believe that we can't get the win."

The Irish have made 22 three-pointers and shot 54 percent from beyond the arc in their first two section games. Jeremy Macchetelli emerged to drill 5 of 6 from long range against Henry Sibley, including a fade-away over several defenders that just beat the buzzer and forced overtime. The Irish, who trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, started the extra session with a 9-0 run and went on to outscore Henry Sibley, 19-12.

Garrett Goetz led Rosemount with 25 points and just missed a triple-double with a season-high 10 rebounds and eight assists. He also helped ice the game by making 11 of 14 free throws.

Macchetelli finished with 22 points, Cole Northwick connected on four threes and scored 14 points and Sean Kalinowski added 10.

Northwick hit five threes and scored a team-high 20 points in last Wednesday's section-opening win over second-seeded East Ridge.

Goetz added 16 points and made all nine of his free throws, leading the team's 24-for-30 effort at the charity stripe.

Macchetelli scored nine points and Kalinowski chipped in with eight points and four rebounds. Sam Broback finished with six assists.