AHS freshmen girls claim back-to-back titles at Albert Lea

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2001

The Austin High School freshmen girls basketball team claimed a tournament championship at Albert Lea among its victories in the first half of the year.

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

The Austin High School freshmen girls basketball team claimed a tournament championship at Albert Lea among its victories in the first half of the year.

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After the Christmas break, the Packers won a 35-23 decision over Mankato East despite fouls and turnovers.

AHS suffered its only loss to date the following Tuesday, 44-39, at home to Rochester Century. A total of 32 turnovers and 25 fouls hurt the Packer freshman. Back on the road again that Friday, AHS galloped to an easy 68-22 win over Faribault. Everyone in the line-up scored at least two points.

Maybe the year’s best effort came next in another home contest. The Packers zipped by John Marshall, 40-13. The AHS freshmen held the Rockets to six points in the first half and seven in the second. A combination of great zone and person-to-person defense accounted for the victory.

On Jan. 23, the Packers made their first trip to Albert Lea’s new high school and made it a memorable one with a dominating 50-35 win.

The following Friday the hometown Packers faced a very talented and physical Rochester Mayo squad and came away with its 10th win on the season, 35-28.

This past weekend the Austin team traveled to Albert Lea once again for the annual Big Nine Conference freshmen tournament. The team would face tough competition during the weekend with many of the teams bringing back most of the freshman girls that had been moved up to B and varsity teams during the year.

To add depth of its own, AHS added Brittany Erichson, who had moved up to the B team earlier in the year.

First, the Packers faced Mankato West, which featured 4 new faces. With great shooting, a smothering defense and an up-tempo attack, AHS pounded out a 51-39 triumph. Leading the way in scoring were Jordan Folken, Laura Geffert, Keri Feller and Brittany Erichson who were all in double figures.

The semi-final game featured the hometown Tigers and the Packers. With Folken scoring a game-high 21 points, including four three-pointers, AHS earned a 53-22 blowout victory . Kelly Momsen and Emily Berg pitched in on the defensive end and Anne Becker and Stepp Bowe guided the team with great ball handling and court sense. Lindsey Bowman provided great front court depth with extended minutes in the post.

For the third consecutive year, the Packers faced Owatonna in the championship tilt. The two teams split the two previous encounters.

Owatonna was in control for most of the game with the rigors of four games in two days catching up with the Packers. In the deciding fourth quarter, AHS scoring leader Laura Geffert fouled out with two minutes to go.

With pressure defense, timely foul shooting and acrobatic scoring plays the Packer freshmen clawed back to within two points with 5.9 seconds remaining when Erichson took that ball coast to coast and tied the game on a driving layup at the buzzer.

AHS had forced the game into overtime, but one overtime wasn’t enough. The game would go into three grueling overtimes with the Packers having chances to win in the first and second overtimes.

In the game-ending third overtime, AHS freshmen Bowe, Erichson and Feller made 5 of 6 free throws to decide the outcome, 39-36.

The Packers made it back-to-back championships and 2 of the last 3 conference tournament finals. The tourney was a total team effort with the Packers reaching 13 wins on the season against 1 loss and 9-1 in the conference.

The team, coached by Jeff Hovland, returns to action with five more games in the next week with Winona, Faribault, Owatonna, Mankato West and Mankato East before a rematch with Rochester Century.