by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Onaway guard Austin Veal’s 3-pointer in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winning points in a thrilling district semifinal game Wednesday against county rival Posen. The final margin was the same as it was back in December, one point: 55-54.
The Cardinals (20-3) move on to the district championship game tomorrow night and get their rematch with Inland Lakes, who knocked off Wolverine, 75-31. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday, not 6 p.m. as previously announced.
Veal, who was left open on the right wing, buried the shot at the 1:30 mark to break a 52-52 tie. Posen’s Colton Paull got it to within one with a running jumper with 11.6 seconds remaining, but the ball did not bounce the Vikings way as time was expiring.
This was a battle royal between two basketball titans from northern Michigan with five lead changes in the final three minutes of the first half and three more to start the third quarter.
No team led by more than four and the score was deadlocked three different times in the fourth.
Posen rallied from four down with 2:40 left with baskets from Ethan Purol and Lucas Mercier, before Veal’s big shot to keep the Cardinals’ season going.
“My guys weathered the storm — we have the experience and the fight,” said Onaway head coach Eddy Szymoniak, “(And) we absolutely refused to lose this game in our place.”
Posen head coach Chris Keller was clearly disappointed with the result.
“Of course,it’s terrible, I have seniors leaving that are crying in the locker room. It’s terrible, but it is what it is, the season comes to an end and we have to move on and try to be better next year.”
Veal was the leading scorer with 24 points, followed by Mason Beebe with 11.
Posen’s top scorers were Mercier with 13, while Romel Paull and Cole Krajniak all had 10 apiece.
The Vikings finish the season with a 17-7 record.
More action shots by Peter Jakey: