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AUSTIN EDITION -- Packers defeat Albert Lea, win third straight

Kelly scores 15 as Austin wins third straight

ALBERT LEA -- Austin overcame a slow start to defeat Albert Lea 45-41 in girls basketball on Tuesday.

The victory was the Packers' third straight and seventh in 10 games since a 2-6 start. Austin is 12-10, 9-8 in the Big Nine.

"We've really turned things around," Austin assistant coach Jeff Hovland said. "We're young, but we're jelling."

Amy Kelly scored 15 points to pace the Packers. Lisa Bue added nine, and Steph Eslinger netted eight.

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The Packers trailed 16-7 after one quarter but got back into the game in the second quarter after Albert Lea coach Karol Hansen was assessed a technical foul. Kelly made two free throws and then added a three-pointer on the following possession for a five-point swing.

"That got us back in the game," Hovland said.

The game was tied 33-33 going into the fourth quarter. Kelly hit a three-pointer and a pair of free throws as the Packers led by as many as eight points.

"In the fourth quarter, we just got some breaks," Hovland said. "We finally got some rebounds and made some shots."

The Packers made just 17 of 36 free throws in the game, but it was enough to secure the victory.

"We made the ones we had to make at the end of the game," Hovland said.

Eslinger and Bue were both 2-for-4 at the line in the fourth quarter.

Albert Lea trailed by three late in the game and had the ball. But the Tigers missed a three-pointer, and Bue snared the rebound. She was fouled with 11.9 seconds to go and made the second of two free throws to put the Packers up by the final score of 45-41.

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"We needed a win tonight, and we got what we needed," Hovland said.

Austin sophomore reserve Keri Feller twisted an ankle in the second quarter and did not return. Her status is uncertain for Thursday night's home game against Mankato West.

The Packers will also find out their Section 1AAA seeding tonight. Faribault and Winona are expected to be the top two seeds in the eight-team section, but the Packers could land the No. 3 spot and a first-round home game.

AUSTIN (45)

Bridget Burzinski 3, Amy Kelly 15, Steph Eslinger 8, Lisa Bue 9, Jenna Cummins 1, Brittney Erichson 2, Laura Geffert 5, Keri Feller 2, Caitlin Jurgensen 0.

ALBERT LEA (41)

Beth Kolling 4, Jenny Vander Ploeg 8, Amy Ravenhorst 3, Aubree Page 12, Danielle Jacobs 10, Danielle Rankin 0, Jenny Hovendick 2, Ashley Rankin 2, Janelle Vietze 0.

Quarter scores

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Austin 7 19 33 45

; Albert Lea 16 24 33 41

; Three-point goals -- Austin 4 (Bue 1, Kelly 3). Albert Lea 1 (Vander Ploeg 1).

Free throws -- Austin 17-36. Albert Lea 4-8.

Fouled out -- Albert Lea, Jacobs.

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