AUSTIN EDITION -- Loss damages Austin boys Big 9 title hopes
MANKATO -- Austin had its Big Nine title hopes all but end on Thursday with a 53-51 loss at Mankato West in boys basketball Thursday.
The loss drops the Packers (14-7 overall) to 12-5 in the Big Nine with one game remaining. The Packers play league-leading Rochester John Marshall (13-3) at home next Friday. But if the Rockets beat Mankato East tonight, the Packers can do no better than second. Rochester Century (11-4) is a half-game ahead of the Packers and still has three league games left.
"We had some chances, we just didn't convert," Austin coach Kris Fadness said. "I feel bad for the seniors. They took it pretty hard tonight."
The Packers trailed West 51-44 with under a minute to go. Gavin Henningsen's lay-up cut the gap to five and after West missed a one-and-one, Tony Ball's rebound basket cut margin to 51-48 with 17 seconds to play.
Jordan Stolp, who finished with 11 points, made one of two free throws for West to make the score 52-48. Austin sophomore John Duren sliced the margin to one with a three-pointer with eight seconds left.
Stolp was fouled and again made one of two free throws to make the score 53-51. Henningsen then rushed the ball up court for Austin and fed Adam Kasper on the wing. But the senior's three-pointer for the win was off the mark.
The Packers had to overcome a poor first half to get back in the game. Dennis Baker scored a game-high 17 points for West and Andy Wills added 14. Both players had 12 points the first half as West took a 33-24 lead.
"The first half we did not guard them effectively, especially Baker and Wills," Fadness said. "We gave them too many good looks."
Corey Christopherson kept the Packers in the game with three three-pointers and 13 of his 15 points in the first half.
Tony Ball had seven of his team-high 16 points in the third quarter as the Packers battled back to take a 39-38 lead. Kasper's three-point had give Austin's the lead back at 37-35.
"I thought that put us over the hump," Fadness said.
The Packers still led 41-40 midway through the fourth quarter when they had a forced shot and two turnovers on three straight trips down the court.
"We really had three bad possessions in a row and that cost us," Fadness said.
Baker's three-point play put West up 45-41 and the Scarlets never trailed again.
The Packers were without senior Josh Holck, who is battling a knee injury. He hurt his knee in practice on Wednesday.
"That really hurt us," Fadness said.
The Packers will play host to DeLaSalle on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Corey Christopherson 15, John Duren 5, Tony Ball 16, Gavin Henningsen 8, Adam Kasper 5, Tucker Schieck 0, Jon Bain 0, Matt Ball 0.
MANKATO WEST (53)
Jordan Stolp 11, Geoff Mead 7, Jake Wills 0, Andy Wills 14, Dennis Baker 17, Tommy Saffert 0, Nick Neubert 0, Jordan Henkelman 4.
Austin 14 24 39 51
; West 17 33 38 53
; Three-point goals -- Austin 7 (T.Ball 2, Kasper 1, Duren 1, Christopherson 3). West 5 (Mead 1, Stolp 1, Baker 1, A.Wills 2).
Free throws -- Austin 10-14. West 14-17.
Fouled out -- Austin: Christopherson.