In a game you heard on AM 1480 KAUS, the Austin Packers girls basektball team took on their second ranked opponent in as many games as they played host to the Class AAA No. 19 ranked Mankato East Cougars at Ove Berven Gym Friday evening, and in a game that saw a combined 61 free throws attempted, 41 for the Cougars and 20 for the Packers, an early second half run for the Cougars that put them ahead by double digits proved to be enough in a 71-60 win.
Mankato East led the game from the start, and they led 27-16 when the Packers went on a 13-2 run and tied the game at 29-29 on a layup by junior guard Ajiem Agwa with 1:27 left in the half. Cougar guard Macy Birkholz, who holds the Mankato East record for most 3-pointers in a career, and who has also scored over 1,000 points in her career swished a 3 soon after Agwa’s layup to give the Cougars a 32-29 lead at the half.
The Cougars then started to pull away early in the second half, as they opened the half on a 12-6 run to push their lead to double digits at 47-35. The lead never dipped below 10 points again until late in the half, when the Packers were able to cut the deficit to nine at 66-57, but good free-throw shooting for East, particularly from Birkholz, who wound up with 32 points, and from senior guard/forward Ellie Edberg, who scored 17 of her 20 points in the second half enabled the Cougars to hold off the Packer charge. Both teams shot free throws extremely well in the game, but they were the biggest difference in the contest, as the Cougars were 32 for 41 from the charity stripe for 78%, while the Packers were 15 for 20, or 75%.
Austin was led in scoring Friday night by Ajiem Agwa, who tallied 17 of her 21 points in the second half, Marissa Shute tallied 11 of her 13 points in the first half, Quinn Osgood totaled 10 points, freshman Atee Obang scored six points, forward Gracie Arndt totaled five points, Mackenzie Brede swished a 3-pointer in the second half for three points, and Addison Walsh tallied two points.
With the loss, the Packers are now 4-7 in the Big 9 Conference and 5-9 overall on the season, and they return to action in Rochester Tuesday night versus the Century Panthers, with the varsity tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. that evening.