Packers hold on to beat Spartans

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An efficient effort on offense vaulted the Austin boys basketball team past Mayo 63-56 Tuesday in Packer Gym.

After Austin (16-4 overall, 12-2 Big Nine) had led by as many as 16 in the second half, the Spartans pulled to within 55-53 after Garrett Benson drilled a baseline three-pointer while being highly contested by Nate Justice with 2:26 left in the game.

The Packers called a time-out and Will Felten answered the bell by getting inside and scoring on an in-bounds play to make it 57-53 with 2:01 left in the game.

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“I was supposed to set a pick for Gundy so he could go up for the lob,” said Felten, who had eight points, four rebounds, and four assists. “But they had a little point guard right there so I decided to just pin him.”

Mayo missed it’s next four shots after Felten’s hit and Connor Gunderson drove to make it 59-53 and T.J. Fritz, who had four assists and three steals, hit four straight free throws in one-and-one situations to clinch the contest.

“T.J.’s done that all year. He makes them when he needs to,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “It’s nice to see us persevere when they’re coming back and make the plays to win.”

After Justice hit a three to make it 49-34 with 11:36 left in the game, the Spartans scored the next nine points to close in and it was close the rest of the way.

“We were rolling and we lost some momentum there,” Fadness said. “We just missed some shots and got tired defensively. They were able to whittle back in it.”

In the first half the Packers trailed 25-21 with 3:55 left but the Packers forced three Mayo turnovers in the last 1:30 and scored 12 straight to close the half. Connor Gunderson drilled a three with three seconds left to put an exclamation point on the run.

The Packers found their success by moving the ball around and they hit 56 percent of their field goals and 54 percent of their threes.

“We just try to be patient with the ball and work for easy shots without forcing anything,” Felten said.

The Spartans were able to stay in the game with second chances as they pulled down 12 offensive boards.

“It was pretty much us just not boxing out and getting lazy. Everybody needs to box out,” Felten said.

Mayo 25 31 — 56

Austin 33 30 — 63

Austin scoring: Connor Gunderson, 19; Marcus Gunderson, 12; Nate Justice, 9; Will Felten, 8; T.J. Fritz, 7; Chris Jahr, 6; Jamaal Gibson, 2; field goals: 56 percent (23-for-43); three-pointers: 54 percent (7-for-13); free throws: 73 percent (8-for-11); rebounds: 20 (Jahr, 6); turnovers: 11

Mayo scoring: Aaron Aaland, 17; Garrett Benson, 13; Andrew Matsumoto, 9; Sam Calcagno, 9; Michael Idso, 8; field goals: 39 percent (20-for-51); three-pointers: 30 percent (8-for-27); free throws: 89 percent (8-for-9); rebounds: 30 (Aaland, 9); turnovers: 15