By: Jared Hines
The electricity at Rocori High School on Tuesday night was incredible and there was good reason for it.
Two teams looking to advance to the Section final. Two student sections–both picking blackout as the theme for the night–being loud behind their masks and one incredible basketball game.
When the final horn sounded, the No. 7 seeded Monticello Magic were victorious once again, this time 80-74 over No. 3 Rocori, for a trip to the Section 5AAA Final!
Neither team got much of a lead in the first half as the Magic and Spartans continued to battle each possession, alternating baskets for much of the opening 18-minutes. A 7-7 tie early on with Gus Hangleben leading the way early with four points and three rebounds. From there, the Spartans took a chance and having the lead, and with 8:45 to play, Rocori led 17-14. They kept the lead until just under three minutes in the half when Calvin Schmitz hit a 3-point shot to tie the game at 29 points apiece. Carson Kolles hit a big shot of his own at the end of the first half to put Monticello up 32-29. Kolles led the way with 16 points in the first half while Hangleben had eight, Schmitz had six and Wyatt Sawatzke had two.
The Magic came out strong in the second half with a Sawatzke basket to start the half and great defense to hold the Spartans 3-point shooting that was so essential to their success in the first half. Hangsleben took a charge with 12:20 left that lighted up an already electric crowd and Schmitz hit a 3-point shot on the other end to bring the lead up to 13 points. The Magic started the half on a 14-4 run to increase the lead to 13 early in the second half. The Spartans kept trying to crawl back, getting it as close as six points but huge shots from the Magic kept the lead at 10-12 for most of the last seven minutes. Wyatt Sawatzke hit a 3-point shot with 6:27 to make it 60-47 and out of the timeout, scored his tenth point of the game on a layup and scored his third straight basket to make it 64-49 with 5:22 left to play. After that, it was Kolles’ turn to shine. His 26th point of the night made it 66-52 and then he was fouled on the next offensive possession, hitting both free throws to make it 68-52 with 4:18 left to play. The Spartans got a 3-point basket and the foul with 4:16 left, trying to make a late push but the Magic was just a tad too strong in the end. Spartans hit a 3-point shot with 1:47 left to bring it within seven points and with 1:19 left Rocori was back within five. Kolles hit two free throws–his 32nd and 33rd points of the game–to put the Magic back up seven but Rocori continued to be hot from beyond the arc, bringing it to 75-72 with one minute to play. With 48.9, Kolles was back at the line, making both to give Monticello another five-point lead and a charge on the other end gave Monticello the ball back with 42.2 left to play. Sam Valor was fouled with 32.5 left to play making one to put the Magic up by six. Spartans scored their last basket of the game to make it 78-74 but that was all she wrote. Puppe hit both free throws to make it 80-74, the eventual final score.
The No. 7 Monticello Magic continue their Cinderella run and head to the Section 5AAA Final on Friday night. There, they will travel to take on the winner of Delano/Fridley.