Austin Packers girls basketball uses late surge to down Owatonna 66-53

The Austin Packers girls basketball team, the No. 2 team in the state in the latest Class AAA poll and No. 1 in the QRF rankings from was on the road at Owatonna Friday night to take on a Huskies squad looking to snap a four-game losing streak, and Olivia Walsh tallied a season-high 20 points and led four Packers in double figures in a 66-53 win.

Each squad hit five 3-point field goals in a first half that saw Austin lead by as many as eight, but just when it looked as though the Packers would go on a run to push the lead to double digits, the Huskies would answer, led by Lexi Mendenhall and Ari Shornock, who combined to score 13 points off the Owatonna bench and the Huskies also used an advantage in offensive rebounding in the half to trim the Austin led to six at the halftime break 35-29.

The second half would see more of the same as the Packers looked to be pulling away at times, only to see Owatonna answer, as forward Audrey Simon scored 10 of her 16 points in the half and Holly Buytaert swished the only 3-point field goal of the half for either squad on her way to 13 points, and the Huskies trimmed the Austin lead to two 52-50 with just under five minutes to go.  Unfazed, a veteran Packer squad answered a final time, going on a game-clinching 14-0 run down the stretch to pull away and lead 64-50 on their way to the win.

Besides Walsh’s 20 points, Hope Dudycha scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half, Reana Schmidt tallied 12 points, Cassidy Shute drilled three 3-pointers in the first half on her way to 11 points, Emma Dudycha added eight points and Ruby Kvam scored two points for the Packers, who also won the turnover battle 17-8 and shot 9 of 10 from the free throw line for the game for 90%.

With the win, Austin is now 4-0 in the Big 9 Conference and 5-0 overall on the season, and the Packers return to action next Tuesday night at Ove Berven Gym versus Rochester Century in the Big 9 Conference, with the varsity tip-off at 7:30 p.m.