Boys basketball preview: Packers look to relaxPublished 8:12pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013
After escaping by the skin of their teeth in a 51-49 win over Winona, the Packers feel like they have new life as they prepare for the Section 1AAA boys basketball title game against Red Wing, which will be in Mayo Civic Auditorium Friday at 6 p.m.
Top-seeded Austin (27-0 overall) is hoping to come out a lot more relaxed than it did in the game against the Winhawks, where they struggled with shooting and handling the ball throughout the night.
The Packers are taking a laid back attitude in practice and they hope to be on their game when they take on the No. 3 seeded Wingers (15-13 overall).
“I think we know how much we lucked out,” said Austin senior center Tom Aase, who is averaging 11.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.3 blocks per game this season. “It’s been a little looser around here and we’re trying to have more fun. We were all pretty tight on Saturday and we were doing some things we don’t normally do.”
Austin beat the Wingers 64-52 in Red Wing Dec. 21 as they held RW’s top scorer Ty Buck scoreless.
Austin head coach Kris Fadness isn’t counting on shutting out Buck, who is a sophomore forward, again.“I expect him to be more involved this time. He’s a good ball player,” Fadness said. “They’ve got some size and they’re fairly athletic. They’ll present some problems.”
The Wingers will also look to get offense out of forwards Isaac Toivonen and Jon Sevlie.
RW ran a man-to-man defense for most its first meeting with Austin and the Wingers have used a 1-3-1 zone this season. Aase said he’d like to play against a man-to-man defense, but it’s likely the Wingers will come out in the same 2-3 zone that gave the Packers trouble Saturday night.
The Wingers advanced to the Section 1AAA title game by beating New Prague 73-66, after they had lost to the Trojans by scores of 64-54 and 61-56 during the regular season.
“I’m sure they’re real confident after their win over New Prague,” Fadness said. “I expect it to be tight, because that’s what usually happens in tournament games. Teams tend to hold the ball a little longer and it usually is close down the stretch.”
Austin’s Joe Aase, who is averaging 17.5 points per game, bailed the Packers out on Saturday by going 6-for-10 on 3-pointers, but the rest of the team struggled from the arc.
Austin guard Bret Lukes, who is shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers this season, said the team is hoping to shoot much better from now on.
“We’ve been working to get our shots back on line,” Lukes said. “We haven’t shot too well in the last couple of games, but everyone’s trying to get back in their rhythm.”
The Wingers play a physical style in the paint and Tom Aase is expecting to see a lot of contact.
“They like to push a around a lot,” he said.
Austin shouldn’t be fazed by playing in the bigger Mayo Civic Center as most of its lineup was on last year’s team that won in the Civic Center and played in Williams Arena.
Lukes said the near loss on Saturday has put a new energy with the Packers.
“We’ve picked up the intensity at practice and everybody’s amped up for Friday,” he said. “We all have experience there and we’re looking to get out to a quick start and get a lead right away.”
Fadness is just hoping his team gives it their best shot.
“When you know you have a good team, the only thing you can ask of them as that they play hard and play confident,” he said.
The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the Class ‘AAA’ state tournament, which begins March 20 in Williams Arena.