Packers top Red Wing in Section 1AAA tournament opener

Published 9:37 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Packers didn’t back down against a team they hadn’t beaten in three years Wednesday night.

No. 3 seeded Austin bounced back from a seven point second half deficit to knock off No. 6 Red Wing 67-61 in the first round of the Section 1AAA boys basketball playoffs in Packer Gym.

Connor Gunderson, who scored 34 points, put in a lay-up to make it 58-56 and Jacob Brehmer hit a short jumper to put the Packers up 60-56 with 2:03 left in the game. Austin sealed the win by knocking down seven of eight from the free throw line.

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Gunderson poured in 24 second half points and knocked down six three-pointers.

“This wasn’t going to be my last game, especially at home. We all made our shots down the stretch,” he said. “The Red Wing curse is over. We hadn’t beat them in three years, but this was finally our time and we got them.”

Austin trailed 41-34 with 12:04 left in the game after Red Wing’s Coleman Kelly scored on a put-back.

The Packers (12-12 overall) finally took the lead when Gunderson knocked down a baseline three to make it 54-53 after Brehmer, who had seven points and eight rebounds, saved him the ball from out of bounds.

“There were many times during the game were we could’ve panicked and we kept our composure,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “We rode Connor and Brehmer was huge for us tonight. He gave us a physical presence inside.”

Austin point guard T.J. Fritz had all six of his assists in the second half as he was constantly looking to feed Gunderson.

“When he’s hot you’ve got to feed him the ball and you’ve got to screen for him,” Fritz said of Gunderson. “He’s open a lot because he’s a great mover without the ball.”

Red Wing (7-19 overall) led 7-2 early in the game but Austin responded with a 12-0 run to get back in it.

Austin will now play at No. 2 New Prague (18-9 overall) Saturday at 7 p.m. The Packers beat the Trojans 65-56 Jan. 30.

“It’s hard to beat a team twice, especially on the road. But I think we can do it,” Gunderson said.

Fadness said that Austin played their best in the win over New Prague.

“That second half was arguably the best half of basketball we played all year,” he said. “(New Prague) lives and dies with the three so it will come down to how well we can defend them at the three-point arc and rebound.”

Austin 22 45 — 67

Red Wing 26 35 — 61

Austin scoring: Connor Gunderson, 34; T.J. Fritz, 11; Joey Swatfager, 9; Jacob Brehmer, 7; ; Tim Erickson, 2; Joe Aase, 2; Jamaal Gibson, 2; field goals: 42 percent (22-for-52); three-pointers: 43 percent (10-for-23); rebounds: 26 (Brehmer, 8); turnovers: 7

Red Wing scoring: Isaac Sevlie, 16; Mitch Earney, 15; Coleman Kelly, 12; Pat Kelly, 9; Joel Newman, 6; Colin Quinn, 3; field goals: 43 percent (24-for-55); three-pointers: 26 percent (6-for-23); free throwers: 46 percent (6-for-13); rebounds: 30 (Sevlie, 8) turnovers: 10