Packers overcome rough start to edge out Tigers

Published 11:20 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It’s better late than never, but it’s getting late in the season for the Packers boys basketball team to continue it’s slow starts.

After a first half that saw it score just 22 points, Austin rebounded with a late rally to beat Albert Lea 56-47 in Packer Gym Tuesday.

The Packers (4-6 overall, 3-4 Big Nine) scored six points in a row after Connor Gunderson hit a jumper and a free throw and T.J. Fritz converted a three-point play off a steal to make it 49-43 Austin with 3:26 left in the game.

“We picked it up like we usually do and this time we won,” said Gunderson, who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. “We picked up our zone press and our man-to-man defense really flustered them.”

Austin had trailed 38-28 with 15:05 left in the second half after a Colby Strilaeff and Taylor Bordelon hit back-to-back threes for Albert Lea (2-9 overall, 0-6 Big Nine).

The Packers responded with a 15-1 run that saw Zach Fadness hit a three to tie the game and freshman center Tom Aase also had four points during that rally.

“Tom gave us great minutes in the second half. He’s probably our best rebounder,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “He gave us good energy and played well around the basket.”

Despite their strong finish, the Packers can’t ignore a slow start that saw them fall behind 13-5 in the first nine minutes.

“I don’t know what it is. Every time we come out, we play slow and we’re not clicking like we usually do,” Gunderson said. “(Our slow starts) are a big concern, we’ve got get started here. It seems like we start better on the road, but we shouldn’t struggle at home because we had a great crowd tonight.”

Fadness said his squad’s mentality must change from the get-go.

“We need to come out and play faster from the tip,” he said. “We’ve talked about changing starting lineups and doing different things but it’s almost like we pace ourselves until we’re down. You can’t play basketball that way.”

Joey Swatfager hit back-to-back threes to open the second half for Austin and he finished with 15 points — hitting four of his five three-point attempts.

“It was nice to see some other guys step up,” Fadness said. “Joey had probably his best game of the year and that was good for him. He needed a game like that.”

Albert Lea 30 17 — 47

Austin 22 34 — 56

Austin scoring: Connor Gunderson, 16; Joey Swatfager, 15; T.J. Fritz, 6; Tom Aase, 4; Tim Erickson, 3; Jamaal Gibson, 3; Jacob Brehmer, 2; field goals: 36 percent (18-for-50); three-pointers: 32 percent (6-for-19); free throws: 52 percent (14-for-27); rebounds: 28 (Gunderson, 8; Brehmer, 7); turnovers: 13

Albert Lea scoring: Colby Strilaeff, 19; Taylor Bordelon, 8; Aaron Klatt, 8; Kyle Ooms, 7; Cameron Hove, 3; Silas Randall, 2; field goals: 35 percent (17-for-48); three-pointers: 29 percent (5-for-17); free throws: 44 percent (8-for-18); rebounds: 35 (Randall, 8); turnovers: 19