RED WING — Playing in their first game on their home court, Red Wing was not only eyeing its first win of the season but was also looking for improvement on its’ 40-point loss three days prior. While the former didn’t happen, the latter certainly did as the Wingers narrowly lost to Winona on Tuesday, 60-54.

Red Wing was quick to put points on the board, opening the game on a 7-2 run. Both teams settled into the game for the rest of the first half, however and Winona took a 25-24 lead into the break.

The second half was much of the same through the first 10 minutes as Winona clung to a 41-39 lead. The Winhawks proceeded to go on a 10-0 run though and opened up a 51-39 lead. Red Wing wasn’t about to pack it in however. The Wingers went on a 13-3 run of their own to trim Winona’s lead down to two points with two minutes remaining.

The Red Wing offense was shut down the rest of the way however, with only two points in those final minutes while Winona packed on six more to claim the win. Interestingly enough, how the game ended was almost prophetic in Red Wing head coach Oliver Simmons’ quote of the day for the team.

“We have emphasis every day and the gameday quote today was ‘winning isn’t everything, but making the effort to win is,’” Simmons said. “Then I told him before the game that my focus for them is to learn the second part of that, to learn the effort part.

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“I think tonight we turned the corner on that; the effort was much higher. I can not be more proud of these kids.”

Despite the outcome, there were plenty of positives for Red Wing to take away from the loss. Chief among those was that Red Wing for the most part played sound defense. Of Winona’s 60 points, Jasper Hedin recorded 34. Only one other Winhawk was over 10 points. The Wingers were also able to force turnovers and keep Winona away from scoring inside with any consistency.

On offense, Red Wing had great ball movement and more often than not, their points were scored because of patient passing rather than forcing a shot. There was also the resolve to come back from a 12-point deficit with less than eight minutes left to a two-point deficit over the course of the next handful of minutes. Although they didn’t come all the way back for the win, the chemistry on the court during that late rally will certainly pay dividends for Red Wing in the future.

“We're preaching that positive culture between each other and that family atmosphere — being happy for people’s success,” Simmons said. “We started to see that a little bit tonight. The boys are obviously upset about losing, but they’re also happy about putting that Austin game behind us.”

Next up for Red Wing, 0-2, is a home matchup against Northfield on Thursday.

Individual stats

Points: Andrew Ball (15), Deso Buck (11), Denval Atkinson (10), Maddox Hanson (8), Maurice Williams-Rosebear (4), Cooper Chandler (3) and Mitch Seeley (3)

Austin sours Red Wing’s opener

Red Wing opened its season with the same opponent and location it ended its last. With a returning core of starters and a new head coach, the Wingers were hoping for a better result. The better results will have to wait however, as the Wingers were shellacked 60-20 in Austin on Saturday.

Red Wing kept the game close in the opening minutes as Austin held a 10-6 lead but the Packers proceeded to go on a 20-0 run to close out the first half and never looked back. The second half was not much better for the Wingers as they were again outscored 30-14 to complete the game.

Andrew Ball led Red Wing with seven points and three rebounds. Maddox Hanson had six points, Mitch Seeley and Deso Buck scored three points, and Reese Tripp had one.

Big 9 scores

Tuesday

Austin 82, Faribault 44

Saturday

Northfield 75, Albert Lea 35

Owatonna 61, Rochester Century 46

Winona 86, Rochester Mayo 67

Mankato East 69, Rochester John Marshall 31