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Section 3AAAA basketball: Irish fall, 94-63

Apple Valley showed why it's the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Friday night's Section 3, Class 4A, championship game.

Highly-touted junior guard Tyus Jones set the tone with a steal and a lay-up on the first trip down the court and the Eagles led from start to finish in a 94-63 victory over Rosemount at Burnsville High School.

The state-bound Eagles shot 57 percent from the floor, 87 percent from the free-throw line and drilled 10 three-pointers in their 27th straight victory. Their athletic guards helped turn Rosemount's nine turnovers into easy baskets and 6-foot-9 freshman Brock Bertram controlled the paint on both ends, blocking several Irish shots and leading a 31-10 rebounding advantage.

The Irish (9-20) fell behind 15-5 early, but closed back within 27-24 on senior Jeremy Macchetelli's three-pointer with 5:15 left in the half. Macchetelli knocked down three of his four three-pointers and Cole Northwick and Sean Kalinowski each added one during the 19-12 surge.

Apple Valley took back momentum with an 8-1 run to close the half. Jones capped it off by drawing a shooting foul just inside half-court and making two of three free throws with four-tenths of a second left to make it 35-25.

"Our offensive game plan worked fairly well in the first half. We were playing kind of fast for a while, but we made some shots that kept it close and kept them from transitioning," Rosemount coach Bryan Schnettler said. "What really hurt us in the second half was their transition offense. We only had nine turnovers, but all of those turnovers led to easy buckets for them."

Those easy buckets, combined with an outside game that was heating up, allowed the Eagles to pull away throughout the second half. They scored on their first four possessions, and then Dustin Fronk canned a trio of three-pointers that stretched the lead to 57-36 with 11:20 to go. Robert Tobroxen followed with two more threes that pushed it to 68-41 with 8:55 remaining.

Jones added three old-fashioned three-point plays of his own as the Eagles rang up 59 points in the second half.

"They really hurt us on the boards and then finding open shooters off of offensive rebounds," Schnettler said. "They are a very talented team and they make it tough for you to guard them because of their balance."

Jones finished with 19 points. Four teammates joined him in double figures, led by Bertram with 16 points. Dennis Austin scored 15 points, Fronk had 14 and Tobroxen added 11.

The Irish kept pace for a while thanks to their nine three-pointers, but could only make 11 of 31 shots from two-point range.

Cole Northwick provided most of the team's offense in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-high 21 points. He was 7 of 10 from two-point range and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.

Macchetelli made four threes and scored 16 points and point guard Garrett Goetz scored eight points.

The loss ended the careers of senior players Macchetelli, Kalinowski, Sam Broback, Matt Gulland and manager Brandon Hansen.

"Our seniors never gave up this season and did a great job of interacting with our younger guys," Schnettler said. "They came up huge for us in section play and helped lead us to the section finals. We are going to miss these five guys."

The Irish players who return next year will build off a season where they met all the goals set forth by Schnettler back in November: to learn lifelong lessons, make lifelong friendships, create lifelong memories and improve every day.

"We accomplished all of these goals. We were a lot better basketball team in March then we were in November and more importantly there are guys who were not friends before the year who are very close friends now," he said. "The last two weeks were a lot of fun for our guys. They were really focused, working hard, and having fun. We had two huge section wins and got a chance to play Apple Valley for the section title."