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Austin Packers girls’ basketball to play for Section 1AAA title after 62-57 win over Kasson/Mantorville

The Austin Packers girls’ basketball team, the No. 3 seed in the Section 1AAA girls’ basketball tournament was looking to turn the tables on the No. 2 seeded Kasson/Mantorville Komets in the Section semi-finals in Kasson Friday evening.

In 2020, the third-seeded Komets came into Ove Berven Gym and knocked off the No. 2 seeded Packers 57-47.  In 2021, however, Hope and Emma Dudycha both tallied 14 points apiece and Austin took a lead early in the second half that they would not relinquish on their way to a 62-57 win.

The game see-sawed back and forth in the first half, with Austin’s biggest lead reaching six points and Kasson/Mantorville’s biggest lead reaching five points, and the two squads were dead even at the halftime break, 30-30.

Austin came out ready to roll to start the second half and opened with a 6-0 run to take a 36-30 lead.  The Packers kept the momentum on their side, holding Komet guard Aby Schubert, who has already surpassed 1,000 points for her career as a sophomore nine points under her average with 10 for the game and 6’2″ senior post Mya Suess, who came into the game averaging 14.5 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, and who also recently eclipsed 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for her career to only eight points, six of those in the first half.  That momentum carried over to Austin’s half-court offense, which was crisply executed the entire game and the Packers pushed their lead to 12 at 53-41.  Kasson/Mantorville, though, came roaring back on the strength of four quick 3-point field  goals,  two apiece from guard Ashlyn Bigelow, who wound up leading the Komets in scoring with 24 points and senior forward Avery Irish to spark a 12-2 run and cut Austin’s lead to two at 55-53.  After a timeout, the Packers showed their mettle as they countered KM’s momentum by pushing the lead back to double digits at 60-53, and the Komets had no answer as Austin kept the lead at two possessions the rest of the way for the win.

Besides the 14 points apiece from Hope and Emma Dudycha, Olivia Walsh had a huge game for Austin off the bench with 11 points, Elyise Hebrink, who scored seven of the Packers’  first nine points with two 3-pointers and a free throw tallied nine points, Reanna Schmidt, who was strong on the boards and played great defense in the post also tallied nine points, Jilian Venega swished a 3-pointer in the first half for three points and sophomore guard Cassidy Schute chipped in two points for Austin, who move to 10-4 on the season with the win.

The Packers will now host the Section 1AAA championship game Wednesday night at Ove Berven Gym versus the fourth-seeded Albert Lea Tigers.  You’ll hear the game right here on AM 1480 KAUS, with the Austin Packers pre-game show set to start at 6:45, with tip-off at 7 p.m.  You’ll also be able to catch the broadcast on our webpage at myaustinminnesota.com, and on the I Heart Radio and Radio.com apps.

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