New Prague coach Ron Gunderson didn’t underestimate his girls’ squad before the season like some basketball magazines did. The journals didn’t show a lot of respect for the Trojans in their preseason polls.
“Some publications picked us as low as fifth in the section,” Gunderson said. “They must have expected us to have a down year.”
Instead, the Trojans (22-6) won the Class 3A, Section 2 title to qualify for their eighth state tournament appearance under Gunderson. All eight have come since 1992.
“We have some kids that were overlooked early on,” Gunderson said. “They are better as a whole team than as individuals.”
Seniors Annie Dittberner, averaging 15.6 points per game, and Lexi Ruehling, with a 13.4 average, lead the Trojans’ attack. They have four other players averaging between 4.7 and 8.7 points per game.
“This group of kids isn’t afraid of hard work,” Gunderson said. “Practice isn’t a chore for them.”
New Prague, seeded fourth in the state tournament, will meet Missota Conference foe Red Wing (21-7) in the quarterfinals at noon Wednesday at Williams Arena. It lost to the No. 5-seed Wingers twice in the regular season.
“We can’t avoid each other,” Gunderson said. “It always ends up New Prague versus Red Wing. We don’t have to meet in Zumbrota to exchange film.”
United we stand
Three members of Apple Valley’s boys’ swimming team — senior captains Seth Berry, Jackson Scholberg and Ryan Sentz — will remain closely connected in the near future.
The three have enlisted in the National Guard. They will attend basic training this summer.
Berry and Scholberg teamed up with senior Andrew France and sophomore Aaron Olson to take 10th place in the 200 medley relay at the Class 2A state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. They posted a time of 1 minute, 39.19 seconds.
• Eastview sophomore defenseman Keith Muehlbauer assisted on all three goals Friday in the school’s only victory (3-2 over Centennial) in the Class 2A boys’ hockey state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. He also scored one goal in the tournament as the Lightning finished sixth in their second state tournament appearance.
• Seventh-seeded Rosemount has used an improbable run to reach the Class 4A, Section 3 boys’ basketball tournament championship game against No. 1-ranked Apple Valley. Junior Garrett Goetz (23 points) and senior Jeremy Macchitelli (22 points) combined for 45 points in a 82-75 overtime victory over Henry Sibley in the semifinals on Saturday. It was Macchitelli’s highest output of the season.