Packer boys top Red Wing

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, December 22, 2011

Austin's Zach Vierkandt cuts through traffic in the first half against Red Wing Thursday night. - Eric Johnson/

The Austin boys basketball team struggled to get its offense going in the second half, but the Packers still held off Red Wing 51-35 in Packer Gym Thursday.

Tom Aase looks inside during the first half against Red Wing Thursday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/

Austin (4-2 overall) settled for 24 threes against an undersized Red Wing team as it was sluggish on offense in the second frame.

“I’ve been on the other end of these games and you take your wins when you can get them,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “We’re happy with the win, but we’re not happy with the way went about it, especially in the second half.”

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The Packers led just 15-14 eight minutes into the game when Zach Vierkandt changed things in the Packers’ favor. The senior guard came off the bench and hit a three and converted a steal for a lay-up in a one-minute span to make it 20-14.

Vierkandt scored all nine of his points during a 14-4 Austin run that put them up 29-19.

“It was nice to get going right away, we just needed to keep the same tempo we had against Mankato East going,” Vierkandt, who had three steals, said. “Our second half was pretty sloppy and I think we could’ve done a lot better, but it’s still good to get a win.”

Red Wing (2-4 overall) scored the first four points of the second half, but they scored just 10 points over the last 14 minutes of the game.

Austin’s 6-8 center Joe Aase was a big factor as he blocked six shots. Aase had dealt with foul trouble in Austin’s last two games but he avoided it on Thursday as he finished with 11 points.

“(Fadness) was on my case about flying around, so I’m trying to get away from that a little,” Aase said. “The refs were letting us a play a little more too, so that was nice.”

Austin's Bret Lukes goes against Red Wing's Zach Garner on a lay-up attempt during the second half Thursday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/

Austin broke the game open when Zach Wessels, who had 11 points, five assists, and four steals, scored the first seven points of a 10-0 run that was capped by an Aase three. The Packers led 45-29 after the rally.

Austin scored 51 points one day after scoring 82 points against No. 3 ranked Mankato East, but Fadness wasn’t about to use the one day break as a reason for his team’s struggles.

“There’s no excuses,” he said. “I thought we played pretty well defensively, especially in the first half. For the most part offensively we had bad passing and we made poor decisions shooting. You can turn down some looks and run the offense, but we pulled too many quick threes.”

Vierkandt is appreciating all of the time he gets on the court as he had to watch every game last season due to an injury.

Now he’s part of an Austin bench that has stepped up in two games in a row.

“We have a good eight-man rotation right now,” Vierkandt said. “It’s really exciting for me to be back out on the court after having to sit out all last year.”

RW 21 14 — 35

Austin 32 19 — 51

Austin scoring: Zach Wessels, 11; Joe Aase, 11; Zach Vierkandt, 9; Tom Aase, 6; Bret Lukes, 6; Nate Schwab, 4; Goliath Oboyo, 4; field goals: 45 percent (21-for-47); three-pointers: 25 percent (6-for-24); free throws: 75 percent (3-for-4); rebounds: 21 (Tom Aase, 10); turnovers: 14

RW scoring:Joel Newman, 12; Isaac Tovionen, 10; Ryan Parr, 6; Jon Sevile, 4; Ty Buck, 3; field goals: 32 percent (15-for-47); three-pointers: 27 percent (4-for-15); free throws: 14 percent (1-for-7); rebounds: 29 (Tovionen, 6); turnovers: 22

Austin's Nate Schwab squares up to shoot against Red Wing in the first half Thursday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/