Packers blow past Tigers

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2009

After letting the Tigers hang around for awhile the Austin boys basketball team decided to put them away in an 80-43 win Tuesday in Packer Gym.

Albert Lea was within 35-33 with 14:25 left in the game after Damian Montes banked in a three-pointer from the wing, and the Packers (13-3 overall, 10-1 Big Nine) responded with a fury — mounting a 32-5 run while holding Albert Lea (1-13 overall) to one field goal over the next 10 minutes to put the game away.

“We just started making some shots,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “Nate (Justice) got us going by hitting some threes and I thought Will (Felten) did a good job of getting to the basket. Once we did a better job of spacing, we were better offensively.”

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Justice hit all three of his three-point attempts in a five minute stretch to help start the rally that saw seven different Packers score.

“We’ve always been kind of a second half team. We figured we’d come out in the second half and bury them,” said Justice, who had 12 points and three steals. “Everybody got touches and everybody scored and that’s what you want.”

Albert Lea almost took momentum into halftime after Colby Strilaeff hit two threes in the last three minutes of the first half to pull the Tigers within 24-22, but Austin scored the next five before the break as Justice hit a three and Felten drove for a score to make it 29-22.

“Thank goodness we hit those two shots at the end, because I was about ready to implode,” Fadness said. “Give the Albert Lea kids credit. They scrapped and hustled.”

Marcus Gunderson, who had eight points and five rebounds, said the team never had any doubts at halftime.

“If we have a bad first half, we know what we gotta do,” he said. “We were just thinking it’s our senior year and probably our last time playing these guys. Let’s put them away now while we can.”

The Packer reserves did their part as well, scoring 10 points in the last two minutes. Zach Fadness and Trent Vandertie both hit threes.

“Man did they play well. We’re up big and you hope they hit a shot or two,” Fadness said. “They came in and scored 10 in two minutes. Maybe I should’ve put them in earlier.”

The Packers are undefeated in Packer gym this year, and they will likely play most of their games there down the stretch. Justice said he prefers Ove Berven’s atmosphere, but admits the team shoots better in Packer Gym.

Marcus Gunderson said the team is more comfortable in Packer Gym.

“A lot of the guys like it because we practice in their more often and it feels more comfortable,” he said. “We shoot a lot better in Packer Gym.”

Albert Lea 22 21 — 43

Austin 29 51 — 80

Austin scoring: Connor Gunderson, 19; Will Felten, 14; Nate Justice, 12; Marcus Gunderson, 8; Steven Rizzi, 8; Tim Erickson, 4; Chris Jahr, 3; Trent Vandertie, 3; Jordan Broers, 2; Kevin Lyke, 2; Jamaal Gibson, 2; field goals: 53 percent (33-for-62); three-pointers: 38 percent (8-for-21); free throws: 55 percent (6-for-11); rebounds: 27 (Marcus Gunderson, 5); turnovers: 9

Albert Lea scoring: Colby Strilaeff, 12; Sean Templeman, 11; Damian, 9; Aaron Klatt, 4; Colton Zuniga, 4; Alik Smed, 2; Woody Dahl, 1; field goals: 33 percent (15-for-46); three-pointers: 28 percent (5-for-18); free throws: 67 percent (8-for-12); rebounds: 27 (Klatt, 7); turnovers: 29