LOOKING FOR AN OPENING: Southwestern’s Gunnar Henry (12) looks for a teammate to pass to while guarded by Austin’s Markus Fleenor in the fourth quarter of the Rebels’ homecoming game on Saturday. Southwestern lost to the Eagles 77-72. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
LOOKING FOR AN OPENING: Southwestern’s Gunnar Henry (12) looks for a teammate to pass to while guarded by Austin’s Markus Fleenor in the fourth quarter of the Rebels’ homecoming game on Saturday. Southwestern lost to the Eagles 77-72. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Austin and Southwestern went back and forth all night, but it was the visiting Eagles who picked up a 77-72 win to ruin Southwestern's basketball homecoming on Saturday.

"It's one of those games where it's exciting," Southwestern coach Andy Firth said. "We tried to do some stuff to slow them down. We couldn't quite get it done defensively. We gave up too many paint shots, too much dribble penetration. Then on their end (Austin) gave up too many paint shots and dribble penetration. In the end it was almost watching two teams that were mirror image of each other."

The Rebels got off to a great start as Darius Whitson-Spegal hit back-to-back 3-pointers for an early 8-3 Rebel lead. The rest of the quarter the two teams exchanged buckets and Southwestern (4-10) could never build on its early lead. In fact, Austin eventually turned the tables on Southwestern and Cody Hendrix's shot as time expired gave the Eagles a 21-17 lead after the first quarter.

It was more of the same in the second quarter as both teams exchanged buckets in the early going. Austin (5-7) pushed the lead to 27-21 with 5:09 to go, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Zach Westerfield and Gunnar Henry pulled the Rebels to within two at 29-27 with just over four minutes left in the half.

Both teams went on to finish the half strong as the Eagles held a 38-35 halftime advantage.

Chris Mayfield's 3-pointer capped a 7-0 Austin run and the Eagles took the game's biggest lead at 45-35 with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

But just when it appeared Austin had broken the game open, the Rebels mounted a comeback over the next two minutes. Henry scored six points of a 9-0 Southwestern run as the Rebels pulled to within one at 45-44 with 4:33 left in the third.

Henry finished with a game-high 30-points on 11-of-20 shooting, hitting four 3-pointers to go with 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and seven rebounds.

"Gunnar's a player. He steps up," Firth said. "He was our offensive player of the year last year. He stepped up and hit some huge shots tonight. We expect that out of Gunnar. He comes in ready offensively. He had a nice night on the offensive end tonight."

The Rebels then scored seven unanswered points to take a 53-50 lead with just under three minutes left in the third to reclaim the momentum Austin had just minutes earlier in the quarter.

"We changed our offense. We're running a brand new offense," Firth said. "Part of this offense we want to get to the free-throw line about 25-30 times a game. That's the main goal. We want to come off the dribble penetration and attack. When you do that you get bumped, you get fouls, those things happen. We're trying to step up that free-throw shooting and get to the charity stripe as much as we can."

Southwestern finished the game 16-of-17 (94 percent) from the free throw line but in the end it was just not enough.

Austin closed out the third quarter with an 8-4 run and regained the lead 58-57 to set up a big fourth quarter.

Just like earlier, the two teams exchanged buckets for the first four minutes before Austin pushed its lead to 70-64 with 3:27 to go. Howeverm over the next 90 seconds the Rebels made one last charge, tying the game 72-72 with two minutes to go as Henry scored six of the Rebels' eight points in the rally.

In the end Southwestern couldn't slam the door on the Eagles as bad shot selection cost the Rebels their second straight loss to Austin.

"Games like tonight you can see what it cost you," Firth said. "Basically, what I told them we don't contest shots ... There's no one thing. Everybody screwed up as far as turnovers, bad shots, contesting, not blocking out on free throws. Hopefully we can look back on this and this is a sectional opponent and say we cleaned this up and we were more competitive."

Withered and Whitson-Spegal each scored 11 points to go with Henry's 30.

Markus Fleenor led Austin with 16 points, Devin Richey had 14 points and seven rebounds and Jeremiah White had 14 points on 7-of-11 from the field and he grabbed seven rebounds as well.

"With this Austin team you have to take in consideration these guys beat Borden, one of the top teams in 1A," Firth said. "A two-win weekend would have been unbelievable for us. Now we have to figure some things out when we come to practice and get some momentum going into sectionals. Then if we draw Austin, I don't think we're a team that will cower down to them or be scared. We know we can compete."

Southwestern visits Clarksville on Saturday.



at Hanover


AUSTIN 21 17 20 19 - 77

SOUTHWESTERN 17 18 22 15 - 72


AUSTIN (5-7) - (f) Fleenor 16, (g) Richey 14, (f) White 14, (g) Mayfield 9, Hendrix 7, (c) Baker 5, Turner 5, Lesnet 4, Vires 3, De Witt 0, Spencer 0.

SOUTHWESTERN (4-10) - (g) Henry 30, Perry 13, (f) Witherd 11, (g) Whitson-Spegal 11, (g) Westerfield 5, (f) Embs 2, Wyne 0, Howell 0.


3-Point Goals - Austin 3 (Mayfield 1, Hendrix 1, Turner 1), Southwestern 8 (Henry 4, Whitson-Spegal 3, Westerfield 1). Rebounds - Austin 35 (Richey 7, White 7), Southwestern 27 (Henry 7, Wyne 7). Assists - Austin 10 (Baker 3), Southwestern 8 (Whtison-Spegal 3). Turnovers - Austin 14, Southwestern 12. Total Fouls - Austin 17, Southwestern 18. Free Throws - Austin 18-24, Southwestern 16-17. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Austin hosts Brownstown Tuesday. Southwestern visits Clarksville Saturday.