Girls basketball: Packers’ upset bid falls short in Byron

Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

BYRON — The Packer girls basketball team made a big run, but its upset bid slipped out of their grasp in the final minutes in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals Wednesday.

Austin's Shayley Vesel, right, plays pressure defense on Byron's Reed Klunder in the Secton 1AAA quarterifnals in Byron Wednesday. -- Rocky Hulne/

Austin’s Shayley Vesel, right, plays pressure defense on Byron’s Reed Klunder in the Secton 1AAA quarterfinals in Byron Wednesday. — Rocky Hulne/

The No. 6 seeded Packers held a lead late in the game, but they struggled down the stretch as their season came to an end in a 59-57 loss at No. 3 seeded Byron (15-12 overall).

Austin (8-16 overall) missed four free throws and it committed three turnovers in the final one minute and eight seconds of the contest.

Email newsletter signup

“We feel like we let one slip away,” Austin head coach Todd Johnson said. “I thought we had a pretty good handle on the game. You’ve got to knock down free throws and you’ve got take care of the basketball.”

The Bears took the lead for good when Vanessa Anderson made a short jump shot to make it 58-57 with 47.2 seconds left in the game. Austin had a chance to take the lead when Mer Gach, who finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, couldn’t finish a drive with 22 seconds left and then the Packers committed an over and back violation with five seconds left in the game.

The game ended when Shayley Vesel’s half-court heave came up short as the buzzer sounded.

Austin had trailed by as many as seven in the second half, but it turned up the pressure and used an 11-0 run to take a 46-42 lead with 9:20 left in the game. Vesel, Gach and Sydney Murphy had layups off of steals in the rally.

“We were in it,” said Alex Hansen, who had eight points, four rebounds and six assists for Austin. “We were ready to push up the court and make something happen. We were really intense. We gave our full effort and we didn’t stop trying.”

Austin senior Merideth Fritz, who scored 15 points, hit a jump shot to put the Packers up 52-50 with five minutes left and she drained a 3-pointer to put her team up 57-56 with 3:23 left in the game.

“I thought we did a lot of different things and the kids executed very well. Byron has played really well lately and they were tough down stretch,” Johnson said. “It was just a good basketball game. Hats off to both teams. Unfortunately we were on the wrong end of it.”

Fritz, Kristine Snyder and Tori Grev are Austin’s three seniors.

“We lose three great seniors. They stuck with the program, they were captains and they’re three great kids,” Johnson said. ”

Austin 28 29 — 57

Alex Hansen shoots a jump shot over Byron's defense in Byron Wednesday. -- Rocky Hulne/

Alex Hansen shoots a jump shot over Byron’s defense in Byron Wednesday. — Rocky Hulne/

Byron 34 25 — 59

Austin scoring: Mer Gach, 18; Merideth Fritz, 15; Shayley Vesel, 9; Alex Hansen, 8; Sydney Murphy, 5; Ruth Koang, 2; free throws: 50 percent (4-for-8); rebounds: 23 (Gach, 7); turnovers: 17