Austin's Bret Lukes is fouled by Winona's Hunter Gamoke during the second half of their Section 1AAA semifinal game Saturday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Packers finish off Winhawks 78-46

Published 9:16pm Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Packers gave their fans one last gift while playing in Packer Gym for the last time this season — and it didn’t take long for them to deliver.

Austin finished unbeaten at home when it started the game off on a 22-0 run and beat No. 5 seeded Winona 78-46 in a Section 1AAA semifinal boys basketball game in Packer Gym Saturday.

Austin's Tom Aase shoots over Winona's Blake Watts during the first half of their Section 1AAA semifinal game Saturday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Seven different players scored for No. 1 seeded Austin (22-5 overall) in its opening run and Collin Weisert, Bret Lukes and Zach Vierkandt all hit threes in the spurt.

“We tried not to think about it (being our last home game),” said Austin forward Tom Aase, who finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. “Our seniors did a good job with it and it was so cool to watch everybody get involved. They were all hitting shots.”

Austin sophomore point guard Zach Wessels turned down quite a few shot opportunities early on to share the wealth with his teammates. He finished with eight points, eight assists and five rebounds.

“We got going early and that got everyone pumped up,” Wessels said. “It was just fun, it was a pass, a shot and a swish. A point guard doesn’t have to score every night, you’ve gotta pass too and that’s what I did tonight.”

Winona (9-15 overall) got most of its offense from junior guard Will Leaf as he knocked down six-of-15 from downtown for 18 points, but most of his threes came after the game had basically been decided.

Austin head coach Kris Fadness gave a lot of credit to his guard’s defensive pressure as Austin forced 16 turnovers and Winona shot just 35 percent from the field.

“Wessels, (Goliath) Oboyo and (Nate) Schwab were so disruptive up front and they really caused havoc on them,” Fadness said. “They’ve got good guards and I wasn’t expecting this at all, I thought they’d stay closer.”

Austin junior Joe Aase put an exclamation point on the win when he hit four of his five three-pointers in the second half en route to scoring a game-high 24 points.

Austin's Joe Aase goes inside of Winona's Jayson Ewert during the first half of their Section 1AAA semifinal game Saturday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Aase hit three of his threes in a one-minute span, despite getting one blocked by Winona’s Hunter Gamoke.

“They were starting to talk trash a little after Gamoke blocked my shot. I hit the next one in his face so that was all right,” Joe Aase said.

Austin will have to say good-bye to the friendly confines of Packer Gym as it heads to Mayo Civic Center in Rochester to take on No. 2 seeded New Prague (19-9 overall) Friday at 8 p.m. in the Section 1AAA boys basketball title game.

“Our home environment is phenomenal and it’s a tough place to play,” Fadness said. “We’ve got to turn Taylor Arena into Austin East (next week). We’ve got a great following right now and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Austin’s win on Saturday is it’s first section semifinal win since 2007 and on Friday the Packers will be playing for their first state tournament berth since 1982.

Winona 14 32 — 46

Austin 45 33 — 78

Austin scoring: Joe Aase, 24; Tom Aase, 10; Goliath Oboyo, 8; Zach Wessels, 7; Nate Schwab, 7; Zach Vierkandt, 7; Collin Weisert, 6; Bret Lukes, 4; Jake Kempen, 3; Ryan Larson, 2; field goals: 55 percent (30-for-55); three-pointers: 52 percent (11-for-21); free throws: 54 percent (7-for-13); rebounds: 35 (Tom Aase, 7); turnovers: 12

Winona scoring: Will Leaf, 18; Jayson Ewert, 8; Dan Shwartz, 7; Skyler Meyer, 6; field goals: 35 percent (17-for-49); three-pointers: 32 percent (9-for-28); free throws: 33 percent (3-for-9); rebounds: 27 (Schwartz, 5; Marks, 5)


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