Pirates head to ‘ship by sinking RSM at last second in semis

Thursday, March 14, 2019

DES MOINES — Izic Mackey’s offensive rebound and putback as time expired sent seventh-seeded Alburnett to the championship game in their first-ever state tournament appearance as the Pirates picked up a 39-37 win in Wednesday’s (March 6) Class 1A state semifinals over six-seed Remsen St. Mary’s.

“If we could have stopped that shot and boxed out and got that rebound, I thought the momentum was going our way,” RSM Co-Head Coach Scott Ruden said. “We had such a good comeback I thought maybe we had a shot of winning that game because the momentum was our way.”

It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that the game came down to the wire as two of the Pirates’ previous three games had gone to overtime with the third being a one-point win in the state quarterfinals over Sioux Central.

Likewise, Remsen St. Mary’s had come up clutch in close games recently with their overtime win over South O’Brien in the substate game and a three-point win over Prince of Peace in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for the Hawks, this time they were on the losing side of a close game.

The Hawks trailed by four with 54 seconds remaining in the game but weren’t going down without a fight. Spencer Schorg missed a 3-pointer but Blaine Harpenau got the offensive rebound and stepped back out for a 3-pointer of his own. Mackey dropped in a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to push the Alburnett lead back up to three. Down on the other end Schorg was able to find the hot hand of Harpenau as he tied the game with another 3-pointer as he finished with a team-high 13 points.

“Blaine’s a big-stage player,” Ruden said. “He pitched as an eighth grader at the state baseball tournament and won. Nothing rattles him. He knocks down those two big threes and that’s just the player Blaine is.”

The Pirates waited for the final shot with Hunter Caves missing a shot before Mackey got the game-winning putback as part of his game-high 19 points which accounted for nearly half of the team’s scoring.

The first quarter was back and forth with five lead changes in the frame. The Hawks knocked down three triples in the opening eight minutes with Brayden Ricke scoring two and Schorg added the other.

Once again the Hawks had a better game than their opponent from the perimeter, making 7-of-15 from beyond the arc in the contest while Alburnett made just one on only six attempts. The Pirates were able to keep up with RSM’s perimeter shooting with a strong inside game, especially in the first half when the team was 8-of-10 from inside the arc.

The difference in the game may have been the second quarter as the Hawks managed to score just two points on lone free throws from Schorg and Harpenau. While the pace of the game was slow throughout, the Hawks managed to take just five shots from the field in the frame with all five missing the mark. After leading by one following the first quarter, the Hawks trailed 23-15 going into the locker room.

“We just had such a horrible second quarter that we had to work hard to get back into the game,” Ruden said. “We got stagnant on offense, didn’t move the ball as well. The whole first half we were really stagnant on offense and I don’t know why. If it wasn’t for a couple big threes by Brayden Ricke and one by Spencer, we could have been down big time in that first half because we didn’t run an efficient offense.”

The deficit reached double digits early in the second half before the Hawks went on a run of their own. A 7-0 run pulled RSM back into the game with Schorg hitting a pair of free throws, Skyler Waldschmitt connecting on a 3-pointer and Harpenau hitting a two-point jumper during the stretch.

Brayden Ricke’s third 3-pointer of the game which was part of an 11 point performance pulled the Hawks in front for the first time since they led at the start of the second quarter. The teams traded the next few buckets before RSM hit another cold stretch prior to their last minute comeback attempt. After the Hawks took a 31-30 lead with just under four minutes remaining, the team was unable to score again until the first of Harpenau’s back-to-back treys with 36 seconds left in the game.

“Second half we battled, we executed offense, we ran some sets and got some good looks and got back into the game,” Ruden said. “We played better defense than we did the first half. Just not enough, just a little too late.”

Alburnett (20-5) will play in Friday’s (March 8) Class 1A state championship game against two-time defending champion Grand View Christian (25-1).

IOWA BOYS STATE TOURNAMENT-CLASS 1A SEMIFINAL

ALBURNETT 39, REMSEN ST. MARY’S 37

St. Mary’s, Remsen............................. 13 2 9 13 - 37

Alburnett............................................. 12 11 5 11 - 39

REMSEN ST. MARY’S (20-7)

Harpenau, Blaine 5-8 1-2 13; Ricke, Brayden 4-10 0-0 11; Schorg, Spencer 2-7 3-4 8; Waldschmitt, Skyler 2-7 0-0 5; Jensen, Austin 0-2, 0-0 0; Brownmiller, Damen 0-1, 0-0 0; Schroeder, Noah 0-0 0-0 0; Homan, Brady 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 13-35 4-6 37.

ALBURNETT (20-5)

Mackey, Izic 8-10 3-5 19; Caves, Hunter 3-12 5-6 11; Graubard, Jared 2-4 0-0 4; Huber, Austin 1-2 0-0 3; Stallman, Reed 0-2 2-2 2; Neighbor, Shane 0-2 0-0 0; Totals 14-32 10-13 39.

3-point FG-- Remsen St. Mary’s 7-15 (Ricke, Brayden 3-5; Harpenau, Blaine 2-4; Waldschmitt, Skyler 1-2; Schorg, Spencer 1-4) Alburnett 1-6 (Huber, Austin 1-2; Graubard, Jared 0-2; Caves, Hunter 0-2).

Fouled out-- Remsen St. Mary’s-None, Alburnett-None.

Rebounds-- Remsen St. Mary’s 22 (Jensen, Austin 6), Alburnett 19 (Mackey, Izic & Caves, Hunter 5).

Assists-- Remsen St. Mary’s 7 (Schorg, Spencer 3), Alburnett 6 (Caves, Hunter 3).

Steals-- Remsen St. Mary’s 4 (Schorg, Spencer 2), Alburnett 6 (Caves, Hunter 2).

Blocks-- Remsen St. Mary’s 2 (Jensen, Austin & Homan, Brady 1), Alburnett 3 (Mackey, Izic 2).

Team fouls-- Remsen St. Mary’s 15, Alburnett 12.

Technical fouls-- Remsen St. Mary’s- None, Alburnett- None.