Boys Basketball: Austin fends off Red Wing
Just seconds after the opening tip-off, Duoth Gach soared into the air and, with one hand, slammed an alley-oop pass through the basket. The Packer fans in attendance exploded. The Red Wing fans sat silent, possibly stunned.
It was a brilliant display of athleticism, and it could have been the signature moment of the game were it not for the Wingers' comeback that began with 8 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game.
But Red Wing could not even the score, and Austin left Tuesday's Big Nine Conference matchup with a 65-62 victory.
“We made a couple of poor turnovers that led to some easy buckets. And we did a poor job of findinf their shooter (Duoth Gach) and he kind of went off. We tried to make adjustments, but he was in the zone and found ways to get open,” said Wingers head coach Drew Olinger. “Those two areas are what cost us. The late-game, that's something to learn from. This was a great game for our guys to see the level that high-level basketball is played at. That was a team we competed hard against, and we forced them out of their normal routine.”
The late-game situations that Olinger referenced were crucial to the Packers hanging on to win a game they led by 17 with 8:35 to play. After a Both Gach dunk that made it 65-59, Red Wing failed to convert on the other end, and then did not foul to force Austin to win the game from the free-throw line, where the Packers finished 2 of 6 on the night.
Then, down three points with six seconds on the clock, Red Wing had one final chance to tie the game. But the Wingers were unable to even get a shot off before the final buzzer.
Yet what Olinger saw from his team was encouraging.
“In spurts, I really loved the way our offense was looking,” Olinger said. “Not that we didn't want to play that game against Stewartville on Friday, but we were excited to get the opportunity to do some more scheming, and to scheme against what Austin was going to do.”
And that led to the Wingers ripping off 14-straight points to even make game matter at the end.
“Did I think we could go on that run? Yeah, I believe in these kids, and I believe in their effort and the things they can do,” Olinger said. “But, now, they know the expectations and they know what it looks like. And that's great to have those expectations and we can hold them accountable for it.”
Christian Massett led Red Wing with 17 points, and was joined in double figures by Ted Tauer (14), Nathan Carlson (11) and Jawon Terry (11). Massett also had 11 rebounds. Duoth Gach made 9 of 10 3-pointers, and led both teams with 31 points.
Red Wing (1-4, 1-3 Big Nine) hosts Byron on Thursday, Mankato East on Dec. 29, and Kasson-Mantorville on Dec. 30.