Packer boys set to play New Prague

Published 8:48 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Austin's Goliath Oboyo goes in for a lay-up against Faribault in their Section 1AAA playoff game last week in Packer Gym. The Packers will play New Prague for the Section 1AAA title this Friday in Rochester. -- Herald File Photo

The Packers are on the brink of making it to the state boys basketball tournament for the first time in 30 years, but before they do that, they must get past perennial Section 1AAA power New Prague this Friday at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester at 8 p.m.

The No. 1 seeded Packers (22-5 overall) beat No. 2 seeded New Prague (19-9 overall) 55-32 Dec. 1, but both squads are different teams now.

Austin's Joe Aase shoots a jump shot against Rochester John Marshall this past season. Aase and the Packers will take on New Prague in Rochester Friday. -- Herald File Photo

One of New Prague’s top scorers Trevor O’Brien was coming off a football injury before that game and the Trojans’ backourt was very inexperienced heading into that contest.

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“They’ve had a year to season and they’re playing better now,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “I know they’re a different team and I don’t expect it to be a 23-point game this time around.”

The Trojans, who average 59.1 points and allow 53.9 points per game, will come out looking to establish the three-point shot, according to Fadness.

“They shoot the three ball and they shoot it well,” Fadness said. “We’ve got to defend them on the stripe and we’ve got to make them put it on the floor a little.”

When Austin, which averages 63.5 points and allow 47.3 points per game, has the ball, the Trojans will do all they can to disrupt the Packers’ flow.

“They play up in your face defense and they switch big on the screens,” Austin guard Zach Vierkandt said. “If we go up there and perform I think we can get the job done.”

As much as the Trojans can do, Fadness is trying to focus on what his team can do. He pointed out that four of Austin’s five losses were to ranked teams this season and the other loss was on the road right before Christmas.

Since Christmas, Austin’s only two losses came on afternoon games after a Friday night game.

“I feel that since Christmas, we’ve been a dang good basketball team and the only time we’ve really struggled is on the back to back,” Fadness said. “I feel good going into Friday night and it’s about us and the way we play. Teams have to adjust more to us than we have to adjust to them.”

While the Packers haven’t played in a state tournament in 30 years, the players aren’t about to let that get to them. Austin senior Nate Schwab said it’s just another game.

“It’s a big game, but we’re just looking at it like any other game,” Schwab said. “We’ve got to go in there, get the job done and get that win. We’re going to give it our all, as with every other game.”