The Austin Packers, ranked No. 6 in the state in the latest Class AAA boys basketball poll played host to the Albert Lea Tigers in a Big 9 Conference matchup Tuesday night at Packer Gym. The Packers were looking to rebound from a tough road loss at Mankato East Monday night, but it was the Tigers rallying back from a 45-39 second half deficit to upset the Packers 72-71.
Austin led by as many as eight in the first half when Pierre Lilly drained a three to put the Packers in front 19-11, but the Tigers were able to rally back with an 18-8 run to take a 29-27 lead. Okey Okey put the Packers in front with a three-pointer, his fourth of the half to give Austin a 30-29 lead, but Albert Lea closed the half strong with an 8-1 run to lead 37-31.
The second half started well for Austin with a corner three from Teyghan Hovland to cut the Tiger lead to 37-34, and another corner three from Hovland a short time later gave the Packers a 39-37 lead. Okey later swished another three-pointer for the Packers to give them a 45-39 lead, and Lilly kept the lead at six with another three from the left corner to make it 49-43, but Albert Lea, who was led by Chay Guen’s 23 points started cutting into the Packer lead and used a 13-6 run to take a 56-55 lead. A hoop for Victor Idirs put Austin back in front 57-56, but the Tigers proved to be too much as they used yet another run, this one 10-5 to lead late 65-61, and they then went 5-6 at the free throw line in the final minute to seal the win.
Okey Okey led Austin in scoring with 18 points, while Agwa Nywesh added 13 and Teyghan Hovland and Pierre Lilly both came away with 12 points. Victor Idris chipped in nine points and Moses Idris added four points and ten rebounds for the Packers, who sustained back-to-back losses for the first time since February of 2019 when they were felled by state-ranked Minnehaha Academy and Rochester John Marshall. Austin continues a busy stretch of four games in six days with a Big 9 Conference road matchup Thursday night in Winona, with the varsity tip-off at 7:30 p.m.