Balanced offense give Packers win
With their top outside shooter sidelined for Tuesday night's basketball game, the Austin boys used a balanced scoring attack to beat Mankato East at the Packer Gym.
Senior guard Matt Duren was injured last Friday at Rochester and sat this game out. Instead, the Packers got scoring from a variety of other players in a 60-51 win.
Max Coffey, Jay Ettinger, and Andrew Kaiser all scored nine points in the home win. Zach Fadness hit a pair of three-pointers and scored all of his eight points in the second half.
Joe Aase started the scoring on the night with a three-pointer and the Packers led the whole way in this Big Nine Conference game. Aase finished with a game-high 14 points and had five blocks as Austin won its fourth straight home game.
"When one of your best scorers goes down, it's nice to see other guys step up," Austin coach Kris Fadness said. "The bench really gave us a lift. Max played well and I'm happy for his success, because it's been kind of an inconsistent season for him. It was a solid team effort."
Tom Aase had another productive game inside for the Packers with five points and a team-high nine rebounds. Tom hit a jump shot to make it a 5-0 lead in the opening two minutes.
After an East basket, Ettinger canned the first of his three treys on the night. The visitors scored, but Tom Aase fired right back for the home team. Aase scored off an offensive rebound and added a free throw for an 11-4 lead with 12:35 left in the half.
"We put defensive pressure on their guards and stopped their scoring off penetration to the basket," Tom Aase said. "We were trying to crash the boards and limit them to one shot. After a tough loss earlier in the season on the road, it was good to beat them."
The Packers not only lost their first meeting of the season to the Cougars, but had also been beaten last year at home on a last second shot. The game started fast for the home team, but the visitors made a few runs.
Scoring six straight points, the Cougars cut their deficit to 11-10 with 9:43 to play in the first half. Kaiser then canned a three-pointer to push the lead back up for the Packers.
The lead was trimmed back to two points, until Ettinger canned another long ball. Kaiser followed with a basket to make it a 19-12 lead. This sparked the Packers as Coffey hit three baskets late in the half and it was a nine-point lead at intermission.
"I hit that three-pointer and it got me going," Kaiser said. "The team has put more trust in me and I've been shooting the ball better. With Duren out, we had to have other guys chip in for the win. This was big payback for our previous losses to them."
Stingy defense by the Packers prevented Brody Ziegler, the top shooter for the Cougars, from scoring in the first half. Ziegler did come back with 12 points in the second half, but it wasn't enough in the road loss.
A trey by Zach Fadness pushed the Packers lead to 12 points in the opening four minutes of the second half. The lead would stay in double figures most of the way, although the Cougars put on a late run to make the final score a bit more respectable in terms of the point spread.
Joe Aase began to dominate down low and scored 11 points in the second half. Fadness hit another trey to make it a 17-point lead with six minutes left. Zach Wessels made a basket as the lead reached its zenith of 19 points with 2:35 left.
Ziegler did get some points down the stretch and Brett Olson hit a late trey for the Cougars, but the Packers remained comfortably ahead. With the win, the Packers improved to a 9-5 record in the Big Nine.
"Last time we played them, Ziegler got his points down low off penetration by their guards," coach Fadness concluded. "This time we played clean defense and although their guards still got inside, we didn't give them an easy looks. Joe and Tom blocked a few shots to intimidate them."
Austin (11-9 overall) travels to Mankato West for a conference game on Friday night.
Austin 60, Mankato East 51
MANKATO EAST (51)
Brett Olson 13, Brody Ziegler 12, Martin Stevens-Frederick 7, Brandon Adema 6, Brandon Kowalski 4, Brandon Sedivy 4, Aron Peterson 3, Taylor Hayenga 2.
Joe Aase 14, Max Coffey 9, Jay Ettinger 9, Andrew Kaiser 9, Zach Fadness 8, Zach Wessels 6, Tom Aase 5.
Halftime:Austin 27, ME 18.
Free throws:ME 9-17, Austin 6-10.
Three-point goals:ME 3 (Olson 2, Frederick 1). AUS 8 (Ettinger 3, Fadness 2, Kaiser 1, J.Aase 1, Coffey 1).