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State basketball: Packers rally to take third as Obang hits 1,000

ST. PAUL – Austin senior Medi Obang saved his best for last as he went on a scoring frenzy and Austin beat Princeton 88-76 to claim third place in the Minnesota Class AAA Boys Basketball Tournament in Concordia University Saturday.

Obang poured in 38 points in 34 minutes as he went 14-for-26 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free throw line. He finishes his career with 1,001 points in just two years on the varsity squad.

Austin’s Medi Obang shoots against Princeton in Concordia University Saturday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

“I’m a very lucky guy,” Obang said. “This proves hard work pays off. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”

Obang, who had five steals, thought he needed 50 points for the milestone going into Saturday’s game, but Austin head coach Kris Fadness told him he was just four points away in the closing minutes. He 1,001 on a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left in the win.

“It really means a lot to have all of the guys trying to get me the ball,” Obang said. “This game will be one of my favorite memories.”

Austin’s LaHenry Gills attacks the hoop against Princeton’s Jon Stimmler (left) and Haydn Stay (34) in Concordia University Saturday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

The Packers (25-6 overall) led for most of the game, but the Princeton (27-5 overall) had pulled to within 66-64 when Adam Williams hit a three-pointer with 5:04 left.

Austin responded when Obang, who was named to the Class AAA All-Tournament team, converted a steal for a lay-up to make it 68-64 with 5:04 left. Ngor Deng and Dongrin Deng knocked down back-to-back threes to put Austin up 76-66 with 3:41 left.

“Princeton is a good team and they had a great crowd. It was almost like an away game,” Fadness said. “Before the game I told the guys we were playing to win. It was a pretty hollow feeling last year (in the third place game) when we had to watch DeLaSalle get all of the medals.”

Austin’s Gavin Owens shoots past Princeton’s Jon Stimmler in Concordia University Saturday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Agwa Nywesh had 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals for Austin and Gavin Owens added 11 points on three-of-five shooting and five rebounds.

“It’s nice to end the season on a win. Not too many teams get to do that,” Owens said. “The biggest thing is we wanted to make sure we won in our last game as seniors.”

Fadness said he gave his team the option to practice on Friday and they were in the gym for two hours working on their game. The squad was also busy shooting around before Saturday’s game.

Austin’s Dongrin Deng pulls up for a three-point shot against Princeton in Concordia University Saturday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Austin has now played in six state tournaments over eight years and it has taken second three times, third once and fourth once. The Islanders, who beat Waseca 63-56 for the 2019 Class AAA title, have won seven of the last eight state titles.

“Name a (Class AAA) public school that’s had a better run than us,” Fadness said. “If it weren’t De La Salle, who knows where it would be?”

Princeton 30  46  –  76
Austin  39  49  –  88

Austin scoring: Medi Obang, 38; Agwa Nywesh, 12; Gavin Owens, 11; Teyghan Hovland, 9; Ngor Deng, 7; LaHenry Gills, 5; Dongrin Deng, 4; Moses Idris, 2; field goals: 54 percent (33-for-61); three-pointers: 35 percent (7-for-20); free throws: 75 percent (15-for-20); rebounds: 35 (Nywesh, 8); turnovers: 10

Princeton scoring: Jon Stimmler, 23; Adam Williams, 18; Reilly O’Neil, 20; Calvin Peterson, 8; Tate Laabs, 6; James Flicek, 6; Kody Allickson, 3; Haydn Stay, 2; free throws: 53 percent (8-for-15); rebounds: 42 (Stimmler, 15); turnovers: 18

Medi Obang attacks the hoop against Princeton in Concordia University in St. Paul Saturday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com