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Boys basketball: Packers can’t finish off Wingers

Austin's Levi Vierkandt handles the ball against Red Wing in Packer Gym Friday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Austin’s Levi Vierkandt handles the ball against Red Wing in Packer Gym Friday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

The Austin boys basketball team had the No. 3 ranked Wingers (19-3 overall, 16-2 Big Nine) on the ropes, but the Packers couldn’t throw the knockout blow.

Zach Coffey goes up for a lay-up against Red Wing in Packer Gym Friday night. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Zach Coffey goes up for a lay-up against Red Wing in Packer Gym Friday night. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Austin saw a three-point lead disappear late in overtime as it lost 56-52 to Red Wing in Packer Gym Friday night.

Austin (11-11 overall, 10-8 Big Nine) took a 51-48 lead when Gach Gach rebounded a missed free throw and scored, but RW’s Ty Buck hit a quick 3-pointer from the deep wing to bring RW within 52-51 with a minute left. Austin ran 30 seconds of clock off before Both Gach missed a 3-pointer and Buck came down and hit another deep 3-pointer to put RW up 54-52 with 13 seconds left. Gach Gach missed a baseline 3-pointer with six seconds left and Buck hit two free throws to close the game out.

“I thought we had it. We’re playing some young kids,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “To me it doesn’t matter [that we were close]. We’ve got to win. There’s no consolation prize for losing. We’re a .500 team and it’s frustrating. We’ve lost so many close games. I thought we were better than them tonight, but we weren’t at the end because we made a couple of dumb decisions and they made shots.”

Austin led 44-43 with 30 seconds left in regulation after Zach Coffey scored on a lay-up but Buck gave RW a 45-44 lead with a drive to the hoop. Gach Gach forced overtime when he made one of two free throws with 4.1 seconds left in regulation.

As a team, Austin went just 10-for-20 on free throws, while the Wingers went 14-for-18 from the free throw line.

“We played a really good game tonight. We just couldn’t finish it down the stretch,” said Gach Gach, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. “Free throws cost us the game. We missed a lot down the stretch. I missed a few. We’ve got to get in the gym and shoot a lot of free throws.”

Austin's Gach Gach passes out of a triple team against Red Wing in Packer Gym Friday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Austin’s Gach Gach passes out of a triple team against Red Wing in Packer Gym Friday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Gach Gach said the Packers were not surprised when Buck pulled up for two deep 3-pointers late in OT.

“He shoots from out there. He’s always been shooting from out there,” Gach Gach said. “We’ve got to get out there and contest.”

RW led by as many as 29-23 in the second half with 10 minutes left in the game, but the Packers bounced back and kept it close. Both Gach hit a 3-pointer that tied the game up at 31-31 with 7:02 left and he hit an even bigger 3-pointer to tie the game at 42-42 with a minute left.

“I’m happy with our guys. We played hard and we did some real good things tonight,” Fadness said. “The bottom line is we didn’t get the ‘W’ and they did. The Buck kid hit some big shots.”

RW 15 30 11 — 56

Austin 18 27 7 — 52

Austin scoring: Gach Gach, 17; Levi Vierkandt, 12; Both Gach, 9; Zach Coffey, 8; Tate Hebrink, 3; Noah Brehmer, 1; free throws: 50 percent (10-for-20); rebounds: 25 (Gach, 10); turnovers: 5