Hulne: Packers had a memorable runPublished 8:24pm Monday, March 25, 2013
The Austin boys basketball team didn’t win a state title like it wanted to this past season, but what it did is leave a lasting memory to themselves and the thousands of Packer fans who followed their state tournament run.
There will be plenty of things to remember about this team besides the fact that they lost to an All-Star team of hand picked players from the metro area in the state title game.
An impressive streak
The Packers won 30 games in a row this year, which really doesn’t hit home until you think about how long the winter season is. Austin played its first game Dec. 1 and its last game March 23.
That’s nearly four months of basketball and you can believe there were nights in practice or even game nights were players were not focused entirely on basketball.
The fact that they were able rattle off that many wins in a row when everybody on their schedule knew they could make a name for themselves by knocking off the Packers, shows how special this group was.
Forgetting about pressure
The only game this season where the Packers looked like nerves were getting the best of them was when they beat Winona 51-49 in the Section 1AAA semifinals. Something must have happened to the Packers after that game, because from that point on, they didn’t seem to be rattled by anything.
Red Wing tied the section title game on a late hoop, which should’ve given it momentum in overtime, but instead the Packers went on to win by nine, and The Blake School led by 11 with 12 minutes left, but the Packers stormed back into that game and won.
Austin’s calmness was seen immediately after their win over Blake. The first thing Austin head coach Kris Fadness did was run to a telivision and then he was checking his phone. Austin’s Joe Aase was also checking his phone shortly after the game.
Where the two sharing the news of their dramatic win?
Hardly. They were trying to see the result of the Davidson-Marquette men’s basketball tournament game that had been played at the same time of Austin’s state quarterfinal win.
A lot of talent
The Packers didn’t just win with heart this season. They had some raw talent that was on display almost every night.
Tom Aase probably set a school record for career blocked shots, Joe Aase hit so many clutch 3-pointers that you can’t just point out one, Ajuda Nywesh emerged as a fan favorite and clutch play-maker and Zach Wessels made a habit out of finishing circus shots in the paint while drawing contact.
It’s rare you have this much talent on a high school basketball team and it was fun to watch them throughout the year.
It’s not over
While the Packers most likely won’t start next season ranked anywhere No. 2 in the state like they did last year, that doesn’t mean they won’t be any good next season.
The team must replace four solid seniors, but there’s some young talent on the roster that didn’t play that much this year and you could see the Packers surprising some teams in the Big Nine next year.
Of course that depends on what happens this summer.
After the run they just had, I’m guessing there’s a lot of basketball players in Austin, that will be spending quite a bit of time in the gym this offseason.