It was a clash between state ranked teams Tuesday evening in Red Wing as the Austin Packers, the No. 4 ranked team in the state in Class AAA squared off against the No. 3 ranked and unbeaten Wingers. First place in the Big 9 Conference was on the line along with possible seeding ramifications in Section 1AAA, and veteran guard Colie Justice scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, including going 9 of 10 from the free-throw line as the Packers closed the game on a 26-7 run to come from behind to defeat the Wingers 42-34.
A slow-down, half-court game offensivley and stifling one-on-one defense were the order of the contest for both teams, as the Wingers jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Austin tallied their first field goal with 12:41 to go in the half. The Packers were able to rally back and cut the Winger lead to one on two different occasions, but Red Wing’s Abi Deming scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the first half to help the Wingers to a 20-15 halftime lead.
The second half started out offensivley as did the first for Austin, as 6:18 elapsed before the Packers tallied their first field goal. The Wingers started the half on a 7-0 run to push their lead to 11 at 27-16, but after a timeout, Austin’s rally began as the Packers ratcheted up the defensive pressure and ground out field goals and trips to the free-throw line offensively to outscore the Wingers in the half 29-14. The Packers were 15 for 16 from the charity stripe in the second half for 93%, with Justice leading the way by going 9 for 10, Hope and Emma Dudycha each were a perfect 2 for 2 as was Erica Lundberg, who had to come off the bench to shoot two free throws for Emma Dudycha, who was shaken up on a drive to the basket. The two clutch free throws gave the Packers their first two-possession lead late, while turnovers and missed field goals for the Wingers helped Austin to the win.
Justice wound up with 15 points, while Hope Dudycha added 9 points, Kyra Walters tallied 8 points, and Emma Dudycha scored 6 points. Lundberg and Elyise Hebrink each scored 2 points for the Packers, who move a half-game ahead of Red Wing for first place in the conference with a record of 9-1, and they are now 12-2 overall on the season.
Austin returns to action at Ove Berven Gym Friday night against the Northfield Raiders in a Big 9 Conference matchup, with the varsity tip-off at 7:30 p.m.