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Cadets shoot down Austin from long range

By Scott A. Kolb

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

ROCHESTER — Too many 3-point shots from St. Thomas Academy on Saturday afternoon put an end to the boys basketball season for the Austin Packers.

The Cadets of St. Thomas made a total of 13 treys in the Class AAA, Section One semifinals at the Mayo Civic Center Arena. The Packers led early, but the Cadets took over midway through the first half and stayed on top the rest of the way for a 57-44 win.

Billy Chapman scored a game-high 27 points for the Cadets. Charlie Aslesen then came off the bench to hit four treys and score all of his 14 points in the second half.

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Led by the long-ball barrage, the second-seeded Cadets withstood every charge from the third-seeded Packers and advanced to the Section 1AAA finals on Friday night. Top-seeded New Prague beat fifth-seeded Red Wing 49-40 in the other semifinal round game.

"Our defensive gameplan was to take away their top scorer (Michael) Fitzgerald, but the other guys hurt us from the arc," Austin coach Kris Fadness said. "Their guys were thicker and stronger than us down low, so we thought our best chance was to make them shoot from the outside."

Initially, the Packers were the team hitting from the outside. Steven Rizzi buried a 3-pointer to give the Packers the early lead in the opening minute. On the next possession, Rizzi drove to the hoop and it was 5-0 less than two minutes into the game.

The Packers would hold the lead for the first five minutes, but then they went on a long scoring drought. Will Felten scored for Austin off a floater in the lane at the 13:18 mark. This gave the Packers an 11-7 lead, but they didn’t score again for more than six minutes.

This gave the Cadets ample time to find their range from the beyond the 3-point arc. Chapman canned a 3-pointer for a 13-11 lead with 9:50 left in the first half, and the Cadets were in front to stay.

Austin never recovered from the scoring drought in the first half. The Packers trailed by nine at halftime, and although they made some inroads on the deficit in the second half, it never got closer than eight points the remainder of the day.

With the loss, the Austin boys finished the season with an 18-8 overall record.

AUSTIN (44)

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Connor Gunderson 13, Steven Rizzi 10, Will Felten 7, Chris Jahr 5, Nate Justice 3, Trent Vandertie 3, TJ Fritz 2, Marcus Gunderson 1, Jamaal Gibson 0, Kevin Lyke 0.

ST. THOMAS (57)

Billy Chapman 27, Charlie Aslesen 14, Michael Fitzgerald 7, Ben Ruble 3, Tom Anderson 2, Danny Traeger 2, Ryan Robinson 2, MIke Ratelle 0.

Halftime: St. Thomas 26, Austin 17.

Free throws: Austin 5-7, St. Thomas 4-5.

Three-point goals: AUS 5-13 (Rizzi 2, C.Gunderson 1, Vandertie 1, Justice 1). STA 13-35 (Chapman 7, Aslesen 4, Fitzgerald 1, Ruble 1).

Rebounds: AUS 28 (C.Gunderson 11); STA 23 (Fitzgerald 8).

Turnovers: Austin 16, STA 9.

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