The Austin Packers girls’ basketball team, the defending Section 1AAA champions and the No. 2 seed in the 1AAA tournament played host to No. 3 seed Kasson/Mantorville in front of a near-capacity crowd at Ove Berven Gym Saturday night, and a key 8-0 late in the second half plus clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch keyed a 57-47 win for the Komets.
The game proved to be a defensive slugfest from the get-go as the Packers took an early 3-2 lead and led by as many as five in the first half, but the Komets had an answer in the personage of freshman guard Abby Schubert, the leading average scorer for Kasson/Mantorville with 15.5 points per game as she tallied nine points in the first half and the Komets defense was able to keep Austin on the perimiter for the most part in the half as they led 22-18 at the break despite turning the ball over 10 times to seven for the Packers.
Kasson/Mantorville gained control of the game at the start of the second half as they went on a 12-5 run to open up their biggest lead of the game at 11 points 34-23. After a timeout, Austin started to battle their way back into the game, mostly on the scoring of Colie Justice, who tallied 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half and Emma Dudycha, who scored all ten of her points in the half. The Packers wound up fighting back with a 12-3 run of their own to cut the Komet lead to 37-35, and a 3-pointer by Dudycha later tied the game at 42. But, the Komets answered right back with a three of their own from guard Olivia Matuska to spark an 8-0 run and take a lead they would not relinquish at 50-42. The Packers again tried to rally, but Kasson/Mantorville was able to weather the storm and clinched the game down the stretch from the free throw line.
Besides Justice’s 14 points and Dudycha’s 10 points, Kyra Walters was also in double figures for Austin with 11 points, Erica Lundberg added six points, all in the first half, Hope Dudycha, who was back in action for the Packers after an ankle injury tallied four points and Reana Schmidt added two for the Packers, who finish the season with a record of 21-7.
Kasson/Mantorville moves to 19-9 with the win, and they advance to play top-seeded Red Wing for the Section 1AAA title Friday night at 8:00 at the Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester. The Wingers advanced easily past No. 4 seed Albert Lea Saturday night 63-24.