AGS fall short of NSL upset
Special to the Independent
FAIRVIEW — AuGres-Sims once again came close to snatching a big road win from one of the North Star League's top teams. But once again the Wolverines boarded the bus for a long North Star League road trip home, frustrated after a close-but-no-cigar 68-62 loss at Fairview.
The Wolverines gave up a 14-point Fairview run in the first quarter to fall behind 19-5, rallied to trail 33-31 at the half and played a nip-and-tuck battle into the final minute.
"We need to play hard all the time, not just pick and choose," said AGS coach Gordie Ostrander. "We played a really good game except for the first few minutes. And at the end, they made the plays good teams make, and we made the kinds of plays that teams make that haven't figured out how to win close games."
The Wolverines tried to little avail to slow down Fairview center Jubal Handrich, who scored 27 points and pulled down 17 rebounds despite facing a variety of defenses that often had him double-teamed.
"He worked so hard," Ostrander said of Handrich. "But I was proud of how our guys played him. Most of his scores were contested."
Fairview's Norman Berry, who often found himself open on the perimeter as the Wolverines focused on Handrich and Joe Koslakiewicz, drained three 3-pointers and scored 21 points.
But AGS fought back, riding the hot shooting of Chad Taylor and Conner Pendred. Pendred drained a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as AGS got back in the game. Taylor hit five in the second half, including back-to-back shots to end the third quarter and start the fourth that trimmed a seven-point deficit to one in a matter of seconds.
The Wolverines finally took their first lead at 60-59 on Pendred's fast break layup with 2:45 left. Handrich answered with a layup and Aaron Wright scored following an AGS turnover to give the Eagles a 63-60 lead. Pendred fed A.J. Baker for a basket, and Handrich hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it 64-62. The Wolverines had a chance with 44 seconds left to tie it, but missed a one-and-one attempt and an offensive rebound put-back that could have tied it, and Handrich salted the game away with more free throws.
"We had our chances," Ostrander said. "I think we earned some respect. But it would have been a sweet one to win."
Taylor finished with 24 points, Pendred added 17 points, four steals and three assists, Baker had eight points and eight rebounds, Nate Jennings had eight points and 10 rebounds and Alex Lutz had seven assists.
The Wolverines fell to 4-6 (3-4 NSL) while Fairview (8-1, 6-1) stayed one game behind unbeaten Hale.