Aase’s slam sends Packers to statePublished 12:20am Saturday, March 17, 2012
ROCHESTER — It just didn’t look like Austin forward Tom Aase’s night.
He was struggling to score and he was hearing about it, every time.
New Prague’s Trevor O’Brien let the Packers know every time he made a play and it looked like he was getting the best of them, posting 21 points to Aase’s two.
Then the final play came.
With the Section 1AAA boys basketball title game tied at 41, Austin ran off one minute and 32 seconds before Tom Aase came sweeping off a back-screen from Goliath Oboyo and caught a lob pass from Zach Wessels for a two-handed jam that gave the Packers a 43-41 win and their first trip to the state tournament in 30 years in Mayo Civic Center Friday.
“(O’Brien) was talking the whole game and it felt really nice to send him off crying,” said Tom Aase, who finished. “We’ve run that play all year and we knew it was going to work. Oboyo set a good screen and Wessels threw a perfect pass. It was awesome.”
The play probably worked because the No. 2 Trojans (19-10 overall) were thinking Wessels was going to take the final shot. When Austin trailed 37-31 with 8:05 left in the game, Wessels made it his personal mission to get the Packers (23-5 overall) back in the game.
Wessels scored Austin’s only 11 points in a three-minute span that saw the Packers pull to within 40-38 with 4:52 left in the game when he drove for a scooping lay-up while being taken to the floor.
“We were all a little bit nervous and scared. Then Zach Wessels brought us back,” Tom Aase said. “He made great plays at the end it was just awesome. He made some huge plays and got the crowd going.”
Wessels made it a one-possession game for the first time in awhile when he hit a three from the wing that made it 38-36.
“I needed to step up,” said Wessels, a sophomore point guard who finished with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. “I’m a competitive person and I wanted to go to state so bad. I was able to find the gap and score.”
The Packers (23-5 overall) took their first lead of the second half when Tom Aase kicked it out to Joe Aase for a baseline three that made it 41-40 with 2:45 left in the game. O’Brien tied the game up at 41 when he hit one of two free throws with 1:34 left.
Austin head coach Kris Fadness never hesitated calling the alley-oop play as it has worked for his team all year.
“It works every time we’ve ever run it. We had it the whole way, but I didn’t want to run it when we were down,” Fadness said. “I figured if we didn’t get it, it would be overtime. We knew Tom would be free because, quite frankly, Tom wasn’t scoring.”
While Wessels carried the Packers in the second half, Collin Weisert kept the season alive in the first half. The junior sharpshooter knocked down three three-pointers in the first half as Austin struggled to get going early on.
“We needed something and I felt I had to keep shooting,” Weisert said.
The Packers had turnovers on their first four possessions of the game as they just couldn’t find their usual rhythm on offense.
“We made it tough on ourselves,” Fadness said. “This is one of the few games we’ve had recently that we weren’t able to get points off of turnovers. We had to earn every basket.”
Austin will open the Class ‘AAA’ state tournament next Wednesday against an opponent to be decided.
NP 24 17 — 41
Austin 21 22 — 43
Austin scoring: Zach Wessels, 19; Collin Weisert, 9; Joe Aase, 9; Tom Aase, 4; Zach Vierkandt, 2; field goals: 41 percent (16-for-39); three-pointers: 35 percent (6-for-17); free throws: 42 percent (5-for-12); rebounds: 20 (Wessels, 5); turnovers: 10
NP scoring: Trevor O’Brien, 21; Jake Meyer, 7; Nick Johnson, 6; Luke Rynda, 5; Joe Kneip, 2; field goals: 47 percent (14-for-30); three-pointers: 36 percent (4-for-11); free throws: 75 percent (9-for-12); rebounds: 23 (Knieps, 5); turnovers: 15