Tigers lose in final 2 seconds of double OT

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Albert Lea boys’ basketball team was two seconds away from making history Tuesday night. The Tigers led Austin, the No. 2 ranked team in the state, 71-70, with 14 seconds left in double overtime.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, Austin’s Zach Wessels shut them down with two seconds remaining.

Makael Lunning was guarding Wessels but as Lunning found himself on the way to the floor, Wessels was finding his way into the air to shoot a two-point field goal to give the Packers a 72-71 win.

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“I said it last year that Zach Wessels was the best player in the conference,” Tigers’ head coach Lucas Kreuscher said. “He runs the team.”

The Tigers were prepared for Wessels, a 6-foot 2-inch point guard, to make a move in the remaining seconds of the game and if not Wessels, then Joe Aase, a 6-foot 8-inch senior guard.

“Wessels did a good job of getting separation,” Kreuscher said about Wessels’ final isolated shot. “If we had to do it all over again, I’d put Makael right on him again.”

The one-point differential showed a huge improvement on the Tigers’ part after 40- and 39-point losses to the Packers last season, but the numbers weren’t even close to satisfying.

“It validated a few things for us tonight, but we are not at all happy about what happened,” Kreuscher said. “We have a lot of room for improvement yet and that’s the nice thing.”

If the Tigers would have won, they would have snapped a 12-game losing streak with the Packers.

As the disappointed Tigers made their way out of the gym and to the locker room, they were supported by their fans who nearly had the gym bleachers full. Students formed a tunnel toward the exit and high-fived and offered words of encouragement to each player as they headed for the locker room.

“The crowd was absolutely outstanding,” Kreuscher said. “They’re as much a part of this game as anybody.”

Austin’s head coach Kris Fadness guessed that the game came down to whoever had the ball last because neither team was stopping each other in overtime.

“What it came down to more than anything else was Albert Lea played really well and we battled through some missed free throws and foul trouble,” Fadness said.

Both Fadness and Kreuscher predicted the rival game would be something to watch.

“We kept telling our team all along that the Scherff kid had really become better and was a solid player overall,” Fadness said. “And, we knew that Vandenheuvel could shoot the tar out of it.”

Kreuscher said he was confident because the Tigers had an outstanding practice on Monday to prepare them for the game.

“We knew the guys were going to be ready, but going into the game I don’t think a lot of people gave us a chance to be in the game at halftime much less take them to double overtime,” Kreuscher said.

Austin had a couple shots at the basket right away in the game, but had trouble getting them in. Instead, Tigers’ Miles Erdman made the first basket of the game with 16 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the half. In the one minute that followed, Austin made 1 of 4 free throws and Albert Lea’s Tyler Vandenheuvel shot a 3-pointer to start the Tigers out with a 5-1 lead.

At the highest, Albert Lea led by 10 points in the first half, but by halftime the Packers slimmed the margin to trail 26-25.

Jorge Seña opened the second half with a basket with 16:41 left on the clock.

A 3-pointer at 10:34 by Aase tied the game for the first time at 39-39. The Packers then kept a short lead until Vandenheuvel hit another 3-pointer and Dylan See-Rockers made a free throw to tie the game 55-55 with 2:33 left in the game.

Austin’s Ajuda Nywesh made a 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining to give the Packers a lead over Albert Lea.

The Tigers weren’t giving up, though. They took a timeout with 14 seconds remaining to regroup. When play resumed, the Tigers threw the ball in and made a pass to Vandenheuvel. With four seconds remaining in the game, Vandenheuval did what he does best and made a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

The four minute overtime began with the Packers scoring on one free throw and a 3-pointer by Aase.

See-Rockers responded with a 3-pointer at 2:33 and a two-point field goal 30 seconds later to give the Tigers’ their first lead in about eight minutes.

“Dylan really stepped up toward the end of regulation,” Kreuscher said. “He started attacking the basket a little bit there and he gave the senior leadership that we needed.”

Each team shot two more free throws, with See-Rockers missing one so the game was tied again 64-64 at the end of the first overtime.

Twelve seconds into the second overtime, Aase took a shot, missed, rebounded and scored to give Austin a two-point lead.

See-Rockers evened the score with two free throws.

As the Packers built up a 70-66 lead with 2:37 remaining, the Tiger fans got wound up and noisily added pressure to Austin’s final four free throws — all of which were missed shots.

With 1:08 remaining Tigers’ Tyler Shaw scored two points and after a timeout, Vandenheuvel sank yet another 3-pointer.

“I think everybody knew he was going to get the ball,” Kreuscher said. “We did a good job of freeing him up and giving him the opportunity. He hit it and we can’t ask much more.”

The field goal was enough to give the Tigers a 71-70 lead with 14 seconds remaining in the game.

A final timeout was called with 10.5 seconds remaining and when play resumed the winning shot was made by Wessel eight seconds later.

“We guarded hard,” Kreuscher said. “At the end of the day, they just made one more play.”


Austin 72, Albert Lea 71

Austin 25 33 6 8 — 72

Albert Lea 26 32 6 7 — 71

AL stats: Dylan See-Rockers 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 assist; Makael Lunning 1 point, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Tyler Vandenheuvel 30 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 assists; Jorge Seña 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists; Tyler Shaw 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block; Miles Erdman 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block; Cody Scherff 7 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist

Austin stats: Collin Weisert 1 point, 4 rebounds; Ajuda Nywesh 6 points, 3 rebounds; Bret Lukes 6 points, 4 rebounds; Tommy Olmsted 3 points, 1 rebound; Zach Wessels 32 points, 4 rebounds; Joe Aase 21 points, 5 rebounds; Tom Aase 5 points, 2 rebounds