Raiders rally to sink Packer boys at the buzzer

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Packers suffered a last second heartbreaker after a frantic finish in Packer Gym Tuesday night.

The Northfield boys basketball team won the game when Jake Balvin sank a deep three-pointer from well behind the line on the left wing on a kick-out from Austin Koep to beat the buzzer. Northfield had just 4.5 seconds to execute the play and walked away with the 61-59 win.

“Give the kid credit, he hit the shot,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “I was trying to get Cham (Okey) to back up and I couldn’t get him to back up. It was loud and maybe he couldn’t hear me. We lost the game before that shot anyways. It’s a tough one to swallow and not just because of the last second shot. We had an 11-point lead and we let it get away. We’re going to have to look at some alternative defenses because we’ve been giving up way too many wide open threes and almost all of them are catch and shoot threes.” 

Northfield scored 42 points in the second half and the Raiders went 10-for-22 on threes.

Just seconds earlier it looked like Austin was going to be celebrating a dramatic victory as Austin junior Jack Lang made a huge steal to set up Gage Manahan, who converted a running lay-up to put Austin up 59-58 with 4.5 seconds left.

Northfield (5-3 overall) was not in the double bonus at the end of the game, but the Packers chose not to foul. Instead they applied pressure and it paid off in a big way.

“I wanted to go for the steal and I didn’t want to foul (Soren Richardson),” Fadness said. “I wanted to foul before we ended up getting the steal, but it worked out. Jack made a nice pass and Gage finished.”

Although the Packers were up 57-56 with under a minute left, Austin committed three fouls in a 10-second span. That put Soren Richardson on the line, and he knocked down two free throws to put his team up 58-57 with 43 seconds left. Richardson finished with 21 points.

Northfield took its first lead of the night when Tate Journell hit a three to make it 56-55 with 1:32 left, but Kaden Murley responded with a quick lay-up to put Austin up 57-56 with 1:11 left in the game.

Manahan struggled with his shot for much of the first half, but he found it late. He converted a three-point play on a circus shot to put Austin up 48-45 with 5:25 left in the game, and he connected on a wing three-pointer off a dish from Victor Idris to put the Packers up 53-50 with 3:34 left in the game.

Austin had led 45-35 early in the first half on a bucket by Murley, but the Raiders stormed back into the game and turned it into a dogfight down the stretch.

The Packers led throughout the first half as Murley hit a three to make it 11-4 early on. The Packers extended the lead to 26-14 with four minutes left in the half after Victor Idris put together a three-point play right before he knocked down a three-pointer.

Murley finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four steals for Austin (4-5 overall) and Victor Idris had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.

“Kaden is a hustle guy for us and we’re happy with how he’s playing for us. He rebounds and he makes plays,” Fadness said. “I thought Victor played well for us again tonight as well.”

Northfield 19  42  —  61

Austin 30  29  —  59

Austin scoring: Kaden Murely, 17; Victor Idris, 14; Gage Manahan, 12; Cham Okey, 6; Manny Guy, 4; Jared Lillemon, 3; Jack Lang, 3; free throws: 83 percent (10-for-12); rebounds: 22 (Murley, 4); turnovers: 9