In a game you heard on AM 1480 KAUS, the Austin Packers boys basketball team faced a tough home test in the Big 9 Conference Friday night in the personage of the Owatonna Huskies, and in a game played in front of a big Friday night crowd at Packer Gym, the Huskies scored the last five points of the game to hold off a valiant Austin comeback attempt by the score of 71-66.
The Packers jumped out to leads of 7-0 and 9-2 to start the game, but the Huskies then went on a 14-2 run to take a 14-9 lead. Austin then answered with a 15-4 run to take the lead back at 24-18, but Owatonna again had an answer as they closed the half on an 11-2 run to take a 29-26 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.
The Huskies pushed their lead to as large as eight points early in the second half, as they held the Packers without a field goal until the 14:08 mark and led 45-38 when the Packers answered with a 9-3 run to cut the Owatonna lead to 48-47. The game then settled into a back-and-forth pattern that would see the Huskies drain a 3-point field goal, but Austin would battle back to cut into the deficit, as Owatonna held leads of 51-50, 54-53, and 60-55 when a hoop from Peyton Ransom tied the game at 60-60 with 3:51 to go. A hoop from Isaac Osgood seconds later gave the Packers a 62-60 lead, but a 3-pointer from Riley Kleeberger, one of four he would tally in the second half a short time later put the Huskies back into the lead at 63-62. Another 3-pointer for the Huskies, this one from guard Nathan Thies, one of nine the Huskies would hit in the second half gave Owatonna a 66-62 lead, but the Packers were again able to battle back to knot the game at 66 with just over 1:20 to play. The Huskies answered with a pair of free throws from guard Jacob Ginskey after a pair of offensive rebounds to take the lead back at 68-66, and after potential game-tying layup for the Packers rimmed out, the Huskies pulled in the rebound, and a pair of free-throws from guard Nathan Thies, and another a short time later from guard Ashton Kraus accounted for the game-ending 5-0 run that gave Owatonna the win.
The Packers were led by Dakota Retterath, who played a strong game in all facets and finished with 21 points, Peyton Ransom was also in double figures with 17 points, guard Mikah Christopherson drained three 3-pointers off the bench for Austin and finished with nine points, sophomore forward Banyaan Omot tallied eight points, Isaac Osgood scored five points, Cole Hebrink totaled four points, and forward Jackson Clausman tallied two points Friday night.
With the loss, the Packers are now 5-8 in the Big 9 Conference and 6-12 overall on the season, and the squad returns to action Tuesday night in Faribault versus the Falcons, with the varsity tip-off at 7;30 p.m. that evening.