Gallery: No. 2 Packers hold off Rockets

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Packers busted out their two biggest weapons as they held off a feisty Rochester John Marshall team in Packer Gym Thursday.

The No. 2 ranked Packers, who have won 14 straight, leaned on the driving of junior guard Zach Wessels and the shooting of senior forward Joe Aase as they beat the Rockets 80-77.

Austin's Joe Aase scoops a shot past Rochester John Marshall's Ngor Barnaba in the first half Thursday night in Packer Gym.

Wessels tallied 23 points, eight assists and three rebounds and helped set up Aase, who went 8-for-11 on 3s and scored a career-high 34 points.

Email newsletter signup

“They were pretty tight on us, and they let me drive. So I just took it. Right away I knew Joe was gonna go off tonight,” said Wessels. “JM is a good team and we’ve got to get past them to win the Big Nine. Tonight was a good step.”

Aase is now Austin’s all-time leading scorer. On Thursday, he was raining 3s from well beyond the arc.

“I was feeling good in warm-ups before the game,” Aase said. “I’m always confident, and I usually shoot pretty well [at home]. My teammates did a good job of getting the ball.”

Austin head coach Kris Fadness heaped the praise on Wessels.

“He’s just really good,” Fadness said. “I think he’s a Division I scholarship basketball player. I don’t know what more to say about the kid. That’s about the highest praise I can give him. He makes everyone better, and he leads.”

The Rockets (12-3 overall, 7-1 Big Nine) never had a chance to tie or take the lead down the stretch, but scored as time expired to pull within three.

Austin (14-0 overall, 8-0 Big Nine) led by as many as 19 when Aase hit a 3 to make it 44-23 in the first half.

The Rockets crept back slowly and they took a little momentum when Deonte Moore hoisted in a half-courter to make it 46-32 at the break.

“The shot at the end of the half was disappointing because it gave them life and kept them in the game,” Fadness said. “In the second half we wore down a little, but give their kids a ton of credit. They all made shots.”

Austin's Zach Wessels puts up a shot while driving inside during the first half Thursday night against Rochester John Marshall in Packer Gym.

Aase, who also had six rebounds, three assists and two blocks, helped seal Austin’s win down the stretch when he put down a two-handed dunk to make it 78-69 with 1:24 left on a pass from Ajuda Nywesh.

“I don’t know how it looked but it felt pretty good,” Aase said. “These are the games we practice all summer for.”

Nywesh also played a big role for the Packers off the bench. He finished with 12 points and hit some big shots, including a layup that made it 73-64 with 3:50 left in the game.

“I was looking forward to this game. Most definitely,” Nywesh said. “They’re a real good team, and the atmosphere of the fans made it a great one.”

Tom Aase finished with five points, eight rebounds and five blocks for the Packers.

JM 32 45 — 77

Austin 46 34 — 80

Austin scoring: Joe Aase, 34; Zach Wessels, 23; Ajuda Nywesh, 12; Bret Lukes, 6; Tom Aase, 5; field goals: 56 percent (28-for-50); three-pointers: 55 percent (11-for-20); free throws: 72 percent (13-for-18); rebounds: 26 (Tom Aase, 8); turnovers: 12