Boys Basketball: Wingers’ rally falls shortROCHESTER – Red Wing outworked top-seeded Austin Friday night in the Section 1AAA title game at Mayo Civic Arena.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
ROCHESTER – Red Wing outworked top-seeded Austin Friday night in the Section 1AAA title game at Mayo Civic Arena.
The third-seeded Wingers outmuscled a much bigger Packers team much of the night and held a 37-24 rebounding advantage at the end of the night. But the shots kept missing Friday and Austin remained undefeated with a 52-43 overtime victory.
Red Wing shot less than 27 percent from the field, including 4 of 26 from behind the 3-point line.
“To beat them, we needed to hit a couple perimeter shots,” Wingers’ head coach Doug Toivonen said. “I can’t say we got great looks but we got looks that guys have knocked down and we didn’t knock them down tonight. Even with shooting that way, we got shots at the end of regulation to win and we took it to overtime.
“They’re 28-0 for a reason,” Toivonen added. “I thought our kids just stepped up and played great tonight. Defensively, the effort was outstanding, we just needed to knock down a few more shots but Austin has a lot to do with that. They’re a pretty good defensive team and that’s why they’re moving on and we’re done.”
Isaac Toivonen, who finished with a team-high 12 points and 11 rebounds for Red Wing, sent the game into overtime tied at 40-40 on a put back in the final seconds of regulation. Jon Sevlie was the only other Winger to score in double figures with 11 points and six rebounds. Sevlie went 6-for-10 from the free-throw line, had five offensive rebounds and nabbed two steals.
Austin’s top two players were the difference makers in Friday’s win. Zach Wessels and Joe Aase finished with 19 points and 18 points, respectively, and scored 30 of the Packers’ first 32 points.
“Aase, he hit some tough 3’s. I thought we had him defended pretty well,” Doug Toivonen said. “I thought (Wessels) stepped up early in the game when they really needed him with the other guys struggling. When they needed someone to step up, those guys did.
Wessels helped second-ranked Austin (28-0) grab a 12-5 lead with 12 minutes, 14 seconds left in the first half, but after he scored a 3-point play, the Wingers took a timeout and refocused.
“We all kind of got off to a jittery start, but after coach called that timeout, it kind of rallied the troops and we got under control,” said Red Wing senior Ryan Boldt.
Coming out of the timeout, the Packers went 9:25 without a point. Isaac Toivonen gave the Wingers a 14-12 lead on a 3-pointer at the 6:22 mark before Austin used a 9-3 run to go into halftime up 21-17. Wessels had 14 at the break.
Aase got the Packers going to start the second half, tallying their first eight points, and Sevlie kept pace with eight of his own to pull Red Wing within 29-27 with 11:28 remaining in regulation. Boldt tied the game at 29-29 less than two minutes later before Wessels hit his second 3-pointer of the game at the 9:04 mark to put Austin back ahead.
Boldt pulled the Wingers back within 36-35 with 3:38 left but Collin Weisert responded with his only points of the game, a 3-pointer at the 2:54 mark.
“That was a huge three in the game. He stepped up and made a big shot for them,” Doug Toivonen said of Weisert.
In the final minute of regulation, Austin missed two free throws with a chance to seal the win and the Wingers took advantage on Isaac Toivonen’s offensive rebound and layup to head into overtime.
In the overtime period, Boldt gave Red Wing a 41-40 lead on a free throw and Aase responded with a 3-pointer despite great defense by the Wingers. After two free throws by Sevlie tied the game at 43 with 2:35 remaining in overtime, Austin held Red Wing scoreless and Tom Aase secured the victory with five free throws in the last 1:33 of the game.
“Got to give them credit, they hit big shots at the end,” Red Wing senior guard Luke Bryant said. “We were always right there. We kept our heads high.”
The Wingers finished the season with a 15-14 overall record and played in their first section title game since 2004, losing just one game by over 12 points.
Red Wing will graduate six seniors.
“It’s disappointing to lose, but the hardest part is saying goodbye to those seniors,” Doug Toivonen said. “We’re going to walk out of here with our heads held high knowing we gave everything we possibly could give.”
“We ended here, which is the best way you can for us seniors,” Bryant said.