AUSTIN EDITION -- Packers fall just short of champs
Kinsella's late three-point play gives JM Big Nine outright title
By Guy N. Limbeck
In the end, Austin literally came up short against Rochester John Marshall on Friday.
The visiting Rockets claimed the outright Big Nine Conference boys basketball championship with a thrilling 45-42 victory over the Packers.
Mike Kinsella's three-point play with 18 seconds remaining snapped a 42-42 tie and provided the Rockets with their winning points.
"That was huge. We didn't want to share it," Kinsella said of the league crown. "It would have been with a cross-town rival so we wanted it to ourselves. We had a really good week of practice and we came in really focused."
With a loss the Rockets (15-3 Big Nine) and Century would have tied for the title. JM slipped but never fell against Austin and its three-point gunners.
The Packers (15-8, 12-6 Big Nine) rallied from a 39-32 deficit in the fourth quarter. Adam Kasper hit Austin's third three-pointer of the quarter, and his fifth of the game, to tie the game at 42-42 with 22 seconds remaining. It sent the crowd at the Ove Berven Gym into a high-pitched frenzy.
But the Rockets had a play called and it help set up the winning points. Mike Polt threw a deep pass to Lou Cha, which was slightly off target. But the guard ran down the ball under the bucket, flipped it to Kinsella and the 7-footer put down a two-handed dunk.
"I was trailing the play," Kinsella said. "I got a short pass and just threw it down."
Austin coach Kris Fadness thought the bucket should have been waived off.
"It was traveling on Lou," he said.
Kinsella's hoop counted, however, and he also made a free throw after being fouled.
The Packers had 18 seconds left, came down and the hot-shooting Kasper appeared to have an open three-point look from the corner. But 6-10 Longar Longar came soaring over to block the ball out of bounds.
"It only went about two inches off my finger tips," Kasper said, unsure if he would have made the shot.
The JM crowd swarmed the court, thinking the game was over. But the officials put one second back on the block.
The Packers got another three-pointer off, but Corey Christopherson's shot hit the rim. The Rockets officially had their victory and another celebration ensued.
"I thought Corey's shot had a chance," Fadness said.
Kinsella finished with 22 points and eight rebounds while Longar had 12 points and eight rebounds. Both players had two dunks in the game.
"We can't stop the dang big guys," Fadness said.
JM had beaten Austin 70-65 in overtime earlier this season in Rochester. The Packers had 13 three-pointers in that game. They had nine this time, but JM held Christopherson to just two after he had eight the first game.
"We just made sure we extended our defense," JM coach Eric Plitzuweit.
Austin, which doesn't have a starter over 6-2, took 27 of its 39 shots from three-point range.
"The biggest difference is we didn't shoot it as well this time," Fadness said.
"They force you to shoot outside," Kasper said. "You have to hope for a great shooting night."
Kasper was one Austin player who was hot. His 20 points were nearly half of the Packers' total. No other Austin player had more than six. Kasper was 5-for-12 from three-point range, making three in the third quarter.
"My shot felt good in the third quarter and the whole game," Kasper said.
The Packers now begin Section One, Class AAA play. They are likely to be the No. 2 seed in the eight-team tourney and will play at home on Wednesday.
"We know we can beat the best of the best," Kasper said. "We just have to come out and play hard."
ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL (45)
Kheu Cha 8, Mike Kinsella 22, Longar Longar 12, Lou Cha 1, Matt Merschbrock 0, Cody Woiwood 2, Brent Krueger 0, Bill Hoffa 0, Corey McFarlane 0, Mike Polt 0.
Tony Ball 3, Corey Christopherson 6, John Duren 5, Gavin Henningsen 6, Adam Kasper 20, Jon Bain 0, Josh Holck 0, Matt Larson 0, Tucker Schieck 2.
John Marshall 12 23 35 45
; Austin 6 16 29 42
; Three-point goals -- John Marshall 1 (K.Cha 1), Austin 9 (Kasper 5, Christopherson 2, Duren 1, T.Ball 1).
Free throws -- John Marshall 12-22, Austin 5-6.
Shooting -- JM 16-45. Austin 14-39.
Rebounds -- JM 34 (Kinsella 8, Longar 8, Woiwood 6, K.Cha 6). Austin 25 (Christopherson 5, Schieck 5, Duren 5).
Fouled out -- Austin, Henningsen.