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Dudychas, defense carry Austin girls to state

The Austin girls basketball team advanced to the state tournament with a 45-30 win over No. 4 seed Albert Lea in the Section 1AAA championship.

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AUSTIN — For the second time in three years, the Austin girls basketball team is headed to the state tournament.

The Packers advanced on Wednesday night in good part thanks to a couple of twins, juniors Emma and Hope Dudycha.

That combination of guards combined for 28 points as the Packers used the twins’ offense and excellent team defense to beat Albert Lea 45-30 in the Section 1AAA title game.

Austin was the No. 3 seed and improved to 11-4, while No. 4 seed Albert Lea finished 7-14. No. 1 seed Red Wing was eliminated from playing in the tournament due to close contact with COVID.

“Those two (the Dudychas), they really controlled the game late,” Austin fourth-year coach Eric Zoske said. “If you have a (slight) lead with just a few minutes to go, they just don’t turn the ball over.”

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Nobody on either side had much luck scoring all game, save for the Dudycha’s. Emma finished with 15 points, Hope with 13. Albert Lea’s leader was Taya Jeffrey with 11 points.

Zoske appreciated what his team did defensively against the Tigers, who played Austin to a six-point game in their last meeting.

“Our defense was spot on,” he said. “It was one of those nights when we didn’t shoot well from the 3-point line. But we had to grind things out. Albert Lea also played a solid defensive game, and it took us a while to get going. A credit to them for not giving us anything easy. But for us (defensively), it was a good night with plenty of tips and steals.”

The teams combined for just 31 first-half points, with Austin sitting with a three-point lead at intermission.

Austin 45, Albert Lea 30

No. 4 ALBERT LEA (30)

Taya Jeffrey 11 P; Jordan Juveland 7; Kendall Kenis 3 P; Kristina Espinosa 2 P; Nevaeh Wacholz 7 P.

No. 3 AUSTIN (45)

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Hope Dudycha 13 P, 2 3-PT; Emma Dudycha 15 P, 1 3-PT; Elyse Hebrink 2 P; Reana Schmitt 4 P; Olivia Walsh 4 P; Cassidy Shute 7 P.

Halftime: AUS 17, AL 14.

Free throws: AL 8-9, AUS 10-13.

Three-point goals: AL 0, AUS 3.

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