The Austin Packers, ranked No. 6 in the latest Class AAA poll in Minnesota State High School boys’ basketball were on the road Monday night for a showdown with Mankato East, the leaders in the Big 9 Conference and ranked No. 2 in the latest Class AAA poll. In a hard-fought contest throughout, it was the Cougars who were able to hold on and snap Austin’s nine-game winning streak by a score of 58-52.
Austin led by a single point on three different occasions early in the first half, the last time 10-9 on an up and under move for a basket for Teyghan Hovland, and later tied the Cougars at 13 on a three by Pierre Lilly. Mankato East countered, however, and led by as many as six before the Packers cut the halftime deficit to two at 28-26 after a strong drive down the lane by Victor Idris led to a layup.
A steal by Lilly led to a dunk by Agwa Nywesh to tie the game at 28 early in the second half, and a layup by Idris and a free throw for a three-point play later put the Packers in front 39-36. Mankato East countered with a 5-0 run to take a 41-39 lead, but a steal and a layup for Nywesh tied the game at 41. The Cougars again had an answer as an 8-4 run put them in front 49-43, but an offensive rebound and a putback basket for Nywesh cut Mankato East’s lead to 49-45. The Packers crept as close as one on three different occasions in the last 5:05, the last time on a hoop from Ogur Gari to cut the Cougar lead to 53-52, but it was Mankato East scoring the last five points of the game to hang on for the win.
For the game, Nywesh finished with 16 points, four rebounds and four steals for the Packers, while Ogur Gari added 10 points, Teyghan Hovland chipped in seven points while Pierre Lilly and Moses Idris each added six. Victor Idris finished with five points for Austin, who falls to 8-2 in the Big 9 Conference and a tie for second with Rochester Mayo two and a half games behind Mankato East, who is now 11-0 in the conference with the win Monday night. The Packers are now 11-2 overall on the season, and they are right back into action at Packer Gym tonight against the Albert Lea Tigers in a Big 9 Conference matchup. Varsity tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.