Packers guilty of victory

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2000


Wednesday, February 02, 2000

Order. Order. Order.

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The Packers finally restored it midway through the fourth quarter of a 73-63 win Tuesday.

The case of the Austin boys’ basketball team vs. Winona at Packer Gym was supposed to be a slam-dunk verdict.

"There isn’t anybody in the building that didn’t think we were going to win the game," said Austin coach Kris Fadness after the court emptied on a trying evening.

Despite overwhelming evidence to support an Austin blowout, the Winhawks came armed to defend themselves.

The Packers were forced to deliberate deep into the second half before finally deciding to meter out a sentence on the Winhawks.

The Winhawks, mind you, are a team on which Austin carried out a 24-point verdict in the season opener.

Still, there’s no plea bargaining in basketball.

As soon as the ball went up, Winona’s young charges – "It’s the wrong year to have to play young guys in this league," Fadness said. – brought the fight, taking it to the Packers by shooting with William Tell-like accuracy and adventure.

Through three quarters of the Winhawks draining one unlikely shot after another, the Packers fussed and led by just four 56-52.

Nobody expected it.

Not Winona coach Kevin Martin, whose team owns all of two wins: "We’re shooting 39 percent this season. This was one of our best efforts."

…. Not Packer Brent Holck: "They were a lot tougher than I thought they’d be. They were charged up and we came out flat."

Flat-footed is more like it. In his post-game testimony, Fadness fumed the quiet fume of disbelief at the Packers’ 13 first-half fouls – the result, he said, of step-too-slow defense. "I can’t say that was good defense," Fadness said. "It was a lackluster evening on our part."

The coach theorized that a pounding practice the night before may have sapped his team, resulting in Winona’s potential drive-by upset.

"We killed ourselves by giving them freebies," Holck said. "You have to make them shoot out in front of you and they were getting a lot of layups."

But when it needed to, Austin summoned a convincing stretch of its own. The game-long-and-strong inside play of Brian Elwer (23 points) and Tanner Schieck (18 points) kept Austin afloat. The Packers’ stretch play kept them from being upset victims.

Zach Tufte’s three pointer and Holck’s steal and scoop pass to a finishing-and-flying Schieck broke Austin’s boredom, lighting a 11-0 run that took the Packers to 67-55 edge.

Three consecutive Schieck steals contributed to six points in the run that suddenly and finally closed the Packers’ case. A simple case of Austin (9-5, 7-3 in the Big Nine) unintentionally allowing an easy game to become an exciting one.

Winona (63)

Graham Sievers 8, Jeremy Scott 7, Jacob Wiltgen 11, Andy Grupa 3, Adam O’Laughlin 2, Sean Zaborowski 8, Chris Zakoshefski 6, Jon Urbick 6, Bryan Weess 2, Brandon Page 10. Three pointers: 3 (Jeremy Scott, Jacob Wiltgen, Andy Grupa). Free throws: 11-of-19.

Austin (73)

Brent Holck 10, Zach Tufte 5, Nick Rohne 10, Tanner Schieck 18, Matt Christopherson 5, Jeff Becker 2, Brian Elwer 23. Three pointers: 5 (Nick Rohne 2, Brent Holck, Zach Tufte, Matt Christopherson). Free throws: 12-20.