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Wingers snap Austin’s six-game winning streak

By Scott A. Kolb

skolb@postbulletin.com

The six-game winning streak for the Austin Packers girls basketball team is history.

Big shots from the Red Wing Wingers in the second half pushed them past the Packers in a close non-conference game on Friday night. The game was tied with less than two minutes to play, but the Wingers pulled it out with clutch free throws for a 56-52 win at Ove Berven Gym.

Austin came into the game ranked eighth in the state for Class AAA, but couldn’t extend its winning streak and lost for the first time since the season opener a month ago.

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There were no glaring weaknesses in the Packers game. They just didn’t get the breaks at the right time, and the Wingers were 8-for-8 at the free-throw line in the second half.

"They seemed to hit the big shots, especially in the second half," Austin coach Gary Peterson said. "We left some people open on the perimeter in the zone, and they made us pay by hitting the threes. We were a little rusty with our passes and had too many turnovers. It was just one of those games where we had our chances, but didn’t hit the shots at the end."

Red Wing became the first team this season to score more than 50 points against the Austin defense. The Packers created their usual chaos in the press and forced 19 turnovers, but they gave a lot of those back with bad passes on offense.

Nursing a one-point lead at the half, Austin struggled to score in the opening minutes of the second half. Their defense kept it close, but the Wingers edged to a slim lead after the Packers went scoreless for nearly five minutes.

Krista Viehauser broke the drought for the Packers with a 3-pointer, and the game was tied. Viehauser’s shot ignited a 9-2 run for the Packers, and they appeared to be on the verge of taking control.

Two free throws from Kathryn Gavin gave Austin the lead. Hanna Middlebrook then hit a jump shot for a four-point advantage. After a basket from the Wingers, the Packers answered with a hoop from Tina Vorpahl, making it a

38-34 lead with 9:21 to play, but then the Packers fell into a four-minute drought. "We missed some shots down low and didn’t have much rhythm on offense," Peterson said. "We were out of position and they beat us to the rebounds. Still, we battled them right to the end."

Taking advantage of the scoring drought by the Packers, the Wingers went on a 9-0 run and took a five-point lead with just more than five minutes to play. Brittney Gibson ended the drought for the Packers.

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Rebekah Aase had a pair of 3-pointers on the night for the Packers. A trey from Aase made it a 45-43 game with four minutes left, but Jen Ulveling answered right back with a long ball for the Wingers. Ulveling and her backcourt partner, Brittany Lewis, each canned a trio of treys on the night.

Fueled by the frantic pace in the final minutes, the Wingers held on to their slim lead. Down by five points with two minutes to play, the Packers rallied. Gavin scored and then Gibson hit a 3 to tie the game for the last time at 50-50. But the Wingers made four straight free throws during the next minute to go on top for good.

"I thought we started to foul them too early," Peterson concluded. "We got it tied, but then committed a foul and missed a shot. We kind of panicked and put them at the line. They made their free throws and we couldn’t catch them. We’ll have plenty of more tough games in the weeks ahead."

Despite the mistakes down the stretch, the Packers had a chance in the waning seconds. Tana Lukes drove all the way to the basket and scored to bring the Packers within two points with 20 seconds left. The press then almost created a turnover, but the Wingers broke the containment and scored the final basket.

Austin (6-2) returns to Big Nine play next Friday night at Rochester John Marshall.

RED WING (56)

Kaela Stellrecht 3, Megan Fleming 0, Brittany Lewis 19, Jen UIveling 11, Olbia Johnson 6, Kim Hovey 6, Abby Ulveling 5, Hope Sevlie 6.

AUSTIN (52)

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Tana Lukes 4, Hanna Middlebrook 5, Brittney Gibson 7, Jenni Fisher 2, Kathryn Gavin 8, Tina Vorpahl 10, Rebekah Aase 8, Krista Viehauser 8, Carolyn Molhusen 0.

Halftime — Austin 29, Red Wing 28.

Three-pointers — RW 6-14 (Lewis 3, J.Ulveling 3). Austin 6-13 (Aase 2, Viehauser 2, Middlebrook 1, Gibson 1).

Free throws — RW 12-18, Austin 10-11.

Rebounds — RW 34 (Sevlie 15); Austin 29 (Gavin 9).

Turnovers — RW 19, Austin 20.

Steals — RW 10, Austin 14 (Lukes 5).

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