Packers clinch a share of Big Nine title

Published 10:34 pm Friday, February 24, 2012

Austin's Collin Weisert recovers a loose ball in the first half against Rochester John Marshall Friday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/

Austin’s four seniors haven’t done a lot of scoring this season, but they got their chance to chip in as the Packers clinched a share of the Big Nine boys basketball team on senior night in Packer Gym Friday.

Seniors Goliath Oboyo, Nate Schwab, Zach Vierkandt and Ryan Larson combined for 24 points as the Packers rolled Rochester John Marshall (8-15 overall, 6-10 Big Nine) 78-43.

Austin's Joe Aase shoots against heavy pressure during the first half Friday night against Rochester John Marshall in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/

While Austin’s seniors haven’t had a lot of shot attempts this season, they certainly haven’t complained and Oboyo, who had eight points, three assists and three steals, said they all know their role.

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“Everybody’s filling their role. You might not score a lot, but you can play defense or do something else to help the team,” Oboyo said. “It was really exciting to see Ryan (Larson) out there. The kid works hard and he makes it tough on us in practice, he deserves it.”

The Packers (18-5 overall, 15-2 Big Nine) used a 15-2 run at the end of the half to break open the game. Tom Aase, who finished with 14 points, four rebounds, seven blocks, and three steals, had 10 points during that run.

“Senior night is always a little tough because it disrupts your substitution pattern, but I thought our kids handled it pretty well,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “Our defense really carried us in the first half.”

With the win, Austin has a share of its first Big Nine title since 1999, when the Packers tied with Rochester Mayo. Austin will host Owatonna Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a chance to win the title outright.

“We’re happy to have a share, but we want to win it outright,” Fadness said. “The atmosphere here will be phenomenal. The support we’ve been getting from the community is fabulous and it really energizes the kids.”

The No. 6 ranked Packers lost 39-34 at Owatonna Jan. 27, but they did hold a lead for much of that game.

“We still haven’t lost at home yet and we want to go unbeaten at home,” said Vierkandt, who had six points and three rebounds. “We don’t want to share the title. It was a tough, close game last time and I think we can win this time.”

Sophomore guard Zach Wessels had 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals for Austin.

Austin's Zach Wessels steals the ball from Rochester John Marshall's John Mattison early in the first half Friday night in Packer Gym. - Eric Johnson/

JM 21 22 — 43

Austin 39 39 — 78

Austin scoring: Zach Wessels, 18; Tom Aase, 14; Nate Schwab, 12; Goliath Oboyo, 8; Zach Vierkandt, 6; Joe Aase, 6; Collin Weisert, 4; Ryan Larson, 4; field goals: 54 percent (29-for-54); three-pointers: 32 percent (7-for-22); free throws: 48 percent (13-for-27); rebounds: 35 (Joe Aase, 6); turnovers: 14

JM scoring: John Mattison, 16; Christian Hermansen, 5; Kyle Dahlstrom, 5; Ngor Barnaba, 4; Aaron Grad, 4; Mike Bosshart, 4; Michael Ojeikholdion, 2; field goals: 32 percent (17-for-53); three-pointers: 17 percent (2-for-12); rebounds: 35 (Dahlstrom, 7); turnovers: 24