Finding ways to win: Packers take down Raiders

Published 10:15 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

The Packers were undersized but they out-hustled Northfield in Packer Gym Friday night.

No. 4-ranked Austin was able to hold its own on the boards to top No. 10 ranked Northfield 70-64.

Austin led throughout most of the game, icing it when Ngor Deng hit two free throws to make it 69-64 with 22 seconds left in the contest.

Austin’s Agwa Nywesh pulls the trigger in front of Northfield’s Danny Gill during the first half Friday night in Ove Berven Gym. Eric Johnson/

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The Raiders (8-3 overall, 5-3 Big Nine) feature four players in their lineup who are listed at 6-foot, 5 inches or taller while Austin’s doesn’t have anyone taller than 6-2. That meant players had to go the extra mile and junior Agwa Newesh, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals, was one of them as he wrangled a couple of tough man rebounds against Northfield’s physical front in the second half.

“Fadness and Kroc told me to rebound or else they’d take me out of the game,” Nywesh said. “That made me want to go hard. Losing Medi (Obang) was a big piece to lose and we had got it together as a team and just took off.”

Obang sat for much of the game in foul trouble as he picked up his third foul halfway through the first half and had his fourth foul with 11:42 left in the game.

Austin’s Gavin Owens finds a crease in the Northfield defense early in the first half Friday night in Packer Gym. Eric Johnson/

Ngor finished with 12 points to pick up the slack and Dongrin Deng added 12 points, five rebounds and four big blocked shots.

“We needed leadership with Medi not on the court and guys had to attack the basket,” Dongrin said. “I just needed to find the confidence.”

The Raiders closed the first half with a 7-0 spurt to get within 30-25 but Gavin Owens started the second half with a three-point play to put Austin up 33-25. Later in the half Dongrin hit a three-pointer and a lay-up on consecutive possessions to put the Packers (9-2 overall, 6-1 Big Nine) up 40-33.

Austin’s Ngor Deng heads in for a lay-up against Northfield in the first half Friday night in Packer Gym. Eric Johnson/

“I thought the first half we rebounded pretty darn well and I thought the second half was a little bit of a letdown. We battled on the boards and we did the best we can with what we’ve got,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “I’m proud of our kids for that. We’ve played some without Medi this year and our guys our confident in our abilities. We played a little bit too much one-on-one in the first half and we’ve got to pass the ball more. We got caught dribbling a lot when it wasn’t there. I thought our efficiency was pretty good on offense in the second half.”

The Packers and the Raiders met in last year’s Section 1AAA title game and the teams usually bring out the competitive edge in each other.

“At their house, they’re very loud,” Nywesh said. “Last year when I was sitting on the bench they were loud and they can get rowdy real quick. They use that to go on runs. If we can calm down, we’ll be straight.”

Northfield 25  39    64

Austin 30  40    70

Austin scoring: Agwa Nywesh, 14; Dongrin Deng, 12; Ngor Deng, 12; Medi Obang, 11; Moses Idris, 6; Teyghan Hovland, 6; Gavin Owens, 5; LaHenry Gills, 4; free throws: 68 percent (13-for-19); rebounds: 23 (Nywesh, 5); turnovers: 8