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Packer boys survive half court buzzer beater to top No. 5 Cougars in OT

The Packers swept the season series against No. 5 ranked Mankato East (12-3 overall, 6-3 Big Nine) as they prevailed with a 70-58 overtime win in Mankato Tuesday.

Austin (11-3 overall, 8-1 Big Nine) couldn’t have had less momentum going into the extra session as Mankato East’s Brandon Kowalski, who scored 18 points, recovered a loose rebound and sank a half court shot as time expired to force the overtime.

Zach Wessels had just hit two free throws to put Austin up 54-51 late in regulation, but the Packers had missed three previous front ends of one-and-ones as they saw a 48-40 lead disappear in the last five minutes.

“East came at us pretty hard and they got back in it,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said.

Despite all of that, the Packers came out swinging in OT as Wessels, who finished with 17 points, got free for a lay-up and Tom Aase hit Goliath Oboyo on a back-cut to put Austin up four and it went to outscore East 16-4 over the last five minutes.

“This is a huge win for us,” Fadness said. “Their bench emptied and they were celebrating on the court after the half court shot. But we came out, attacked the basket and did what we had to do to win.”

Joe Aase, who led Austin with 24 points, Wessels and Tom Aase each played the entire second half and overtime without a break.

“I’m really happy with the mental and physical toughness we showed tonight,” Fadness said.

The Packers will now prepare for a showdown at Owatonna (13-3 overall, 7-1 Big Nine) Friday at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game will move into first place in the Big Nine.

“It’ll be another huge game,” Fadness said.

Austin scoring: Joe Aase, 24; Zach Wessels, 17; Goliath Oboyo, 11; Tom Aase, 6; Nate Schwab, 6; Zach Vierkandt, 4; Bret Lukes, 2; free throws: 71 percent (15-for-21)