The Austin Packers girls basketball team, the No. 3 seed in the Section 1AAA tournament and ranked No. 19 in the state in the final poll of the season by the Minnesota Basketball News traveled to the Mayo Civic Center Arena in Rochester Friday night to defend their section title in the finals against top-seeded and No. 4 ranked Stewartville, winners of 23 games in a row. In a game that saw the Tigers break out of an early 4-4 tie with a 19-4 run to take a 23-8 first half lead, it was Stewartville claiming their first-ever section title with a 78-50 win.
Stewartville used an agressive 2-3 zone defense, with traps whenever possible and getting into passing lanes to force 11 of Austin’s 19 turnovers in the game in the opening half, plus seven 3-point field goals and 21 points from their bench, led by freshman guard Audrey Shindelar’s 11 and seven from fellow guard Avery Spencer to take a 47-24 lead into the halftime break. The Tigers did not ease off in the second half as they used a 17-7 run to open the half to take a 64-31 lead, and they were able to push their lead to as large as 37 points on their way to the win.
Seniors Olivia Walsh and Cassidy Shute closed out stellar careers for Austin Friday night with 20 and 16 points, respectively, 8th grade guard Quinn Osgood drilled four 3-pointers in the first half on her way to 11 points, and sophomore guard Ajiem Agwa scored three points.
A great season for an overall young Packers team that improved by leaps and bounds as the season went on comes to an end with a record of 20-9, while Stewartville will take a 27-2 record into the State Class AAA tournament quarterfinals next Wednesday at Maturi Pavillion on the campus of the University of Minnesota.