Kauffman nails winning three in opening home game

Garrett Kauffman nailed a three with just two seconds left Monday to lead the Husky boys basketball team to a 65-62 victory over Cottage Grove.

The Huskies hosted Cottage Grove Monday night in their first appearance at home.

Cottage Grove jumped out to a small lead, 17-12 in the first quarter.

Cottage Grove’s style has always been real physical, kind of intimidating,” Coach Tim Little said. “I think at times, our kids don’t realize how much size we have. We missed a couple of easy shots because we were getting bumped a little bit.”

The Lions stretched that lead in the second quarter to eight and nine points, but settling into the game, the Huskies closed the gap to 34-30 by halftime.

Concentrating their defenses on shutting down two key Cottage Grove players, the Huskies closed the lead to one when Garret Kauffman hit a three and followed up with a drive to the bucket.

Cottage Grove traded baskets with Ravi Patel before widening the gap to 11 at one point. The Huskies whittled away at that lead, and Patel threw the ball from the half-court line on the buzzer to cut Cottage Grove’s lead to 48-46 at the end of the third.

Cottage Grove and the Huskies traded buckets followed by Kauffman for three and a Husky lead 51-50. Cottage Grove answered immediately with its own three followed by another field goal. At three minutes left, the Huskies hit another three to get within one.

Cottage Grove hit a bucket and swiped the ball for another two. Worley put down another Husky three to bring the Huskies within two. Patel scored another three to take the lead again, 60-59.

Aaron Forquer grabbed a defensive board, and Worley scored off an assist from Forquer to enlarge the lead. Cottage Grove scored another three to tie the game 62-62 with about 1:30 left in the game.

With 36 seconds left, Cottage Grove called a timeout, but a Cottage Grove player stepped out of bounds turning the ball over to the Huskies.

Following a Husky timeout, they planned to hit the winning bucket on a pick and roll from Worley and Patel, but Cottage Grove cut that option off. Two seconds left, Alex Ritzman fed the ball to Kauffman for a three as the second option.

In their first two outings, the Huskies played a rushed, impatient offense. Monday night, the team slowed the pace a bit in favor of control.

With control, the Huskies can up the tempo of the game as they did against Cottage Grove, Coach Little said. The Huskies are fast, but they need control when they use it.

The Huskies concentrated on stopping Cottage Grove post Adam Elvebak and point guard Tenzin NyanDak.

The post had scored 17 in the first half but was held to six in the second and only two in the fourth quarter. He managed to wear out Forquer and Worley, but they exchanged the favor.

Defending him better was key to the Huskies’ comeback, Coach Little said. The second key was adjusting Patel’s defense to shut down point guard NyanDak, who created much of the Lions’ offense and scored 15.

“Ravi had a great game,” scoring 17 points, Coach Little said. “I’m sure (Worley) had a double double or close to tonight. Andy, right now, is playing at a very high caliber.”

Worley scored 15 points for the Huskies.

Kauffman didn’t score the first quarter, but when he lit the court up, he ended up leading the Huskies in scoring with 23 points, five three-pointers and the winning shot. Nineteen of those points were in the second half.

“When he shoots with confidence, he’s as good a shooter as Charlie Pace and others like that,” Coach Little said. After he scored in the second half, he played the rest of the game with confidence.

“I’m very pleased,” Coach Little said. “After Friday night, we were all thinking, what’s going on. We’ve had more improvement in three nights, more from watching film and talking about the games than in 19 practices.”

Also scoring on the game were Ritzman with six points and Forquer with four.