Schwab’s threes vault Packers

Published 11:26 pm Friday, February 17, 2012

Austin's Zach Wessels takes it to the rack against the Century defense in Packer Gym Friday. Wessels scored 20 points and the Packers won 69-56. -- Rocky Hulne/

Austin’s ‘Big Three’ combined for 56 points, but it was a pair of threes by one of Austin’s other players that ensured a 69-56 win over Rochester Century in Packer Gym Friday night.

Senior guard Nate Schwab provided Austin’s only points over a five-minute stretch that saw the Panthers (14-7 overall, 8-6 Big Nine) creep from down 41-26 to get within 47-38 with 6:12 left in the game.

Austin's Nate Schwab has his lay-up attempt blocked by Century's Kevale Taylor in Packer Gym Friday. -- Rocky Hulne/

Schwab drilled a three to make it 44-30 and hit another from downtown to push the lead back up to 47-33.

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“It was nice to get my stroke back and finally get some confidence,” Schwab said. “I haven’t been making many threes lately and that leaves me open because Joe (Aase) has been making a lot of outside shots.”

Just when it looked like Century had figured out how to contain Austin’s primary scorers, Zach Wessels pulled down a rebound while getting fouled and tipped it in to kickstart a 15-5 Packer run.

“We got pumped up and the fans helped us out there,” said Wessels, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. “Energy goes along way. It can really pump up a team and get them to play better.”

Wessels hit the free throw after his put-back and another to make it 51-38 and Joe Aase hit three three-pointers over the final five minutes to seal the win.

Joe Aase, who finished with 21 points, five rebounds and three steals, scored nine points in the game’s first four minutes, but he didn’t score again until he scored inside to make it 53-38 with 5:29 left in the game.

“Once I got hot, they went into a box and one on me,” said Aase, who was 5-for-8 from the three-point line. “But in the second half my teammates stepped up and hit some shots and they went back to man (defense) and I got free again.”

Tom Aase also stepped up for the No. 6 ranked Packers (16-5 overall, 13-2 Big Nine) as he finished with 15 points and six rebounds.

While Austin head coach Kris Fadness was happy to see his team win, he didn’t like the fact that they committed 23 turnovers and relied a little too much on scoring in transition.

Austin's Tom Aase puts a shot up against the defense of Rochester Century's CJ Fritcher in Packer Gym Friday. -- Rocky Hulne/

“This is as frustrated as I’ve been all year in our offense,” Fadness said. “I take pride in being disciplined offensively and we were not. When we get to the section tournament we don’t want the switch to go on and off. The switch needs to be on all the time.”

Besides staying unbeaten at home, the Packers also heard some other good news on Friday as Owatonna lost at Mankato East 55-52.

That means the teams are now tied at the top of the Big Nine with three conference games remaining.

The Packers host Owatonna, who beat Austin 39-34 Jan. 27, in the last game of the regular season March 2 at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s nice to be able to win out and take care of business and be able to win it on our homecourt,” Joe Aase said. “It gives us motivation going into practice.”

Century 19 38 — 56

Austin 31 37 — 69

Austin scoring: Joe Aase, 21; Zach Wessels, 20; Tom Aase, 15; Nate Schwab, 6; Bret Lukes, 3; Goliath Oboyo, 2; Collin Weisert, 2; field goals: 43 percent (23-for-54); three-pointers: 31 percent (9-for-29); free throws: 70 percent (14-for-20); rebounds: 31 (Wessels, 7); turnovers: 23