No. 4 Packers will get a big test on Friday

Published 7:07 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Packer boys basketball team is facing one of its biggest conference tests of the season this Friday at Packer Gym at 7:30 p.m.

No. 4 ranked Austin (10-3 overall, 6-0 Big Nine) will be hosting its biggest threat to its third straight Big Nine title in Rochester John Marshall (10-3 overall, 7-0 Big Nine). The Rockets, who have won five straight, will have a distinct size advantage as they are led by 6-7 sophomore Michael Hurt and 6-11 center Ngor Barnaba and JM also has solid guards.

“Probably from top to bottom, they’re the most talented team in the league,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “[Hurt] is a really talented player and he’ll probably end up being a scholarship player.”

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The Packers are coming off a tough 62-59 loss to Caledonia that snapped their 31-game home winning streak, but Fadness said his team has responded well. Austin’s last two practices have been solid and the Packers appear to be ready for the Rockets.

“If we play two halves like we did in the second half of the Caledonia game, we’ll be fine,” Fadness said. “I feel like we’re into it and I think the guys are ready to play.”

The game is as big as they come for Austin as the Big Nine race has boiled down to the Packers, the Rockets and Mankato West (9-3 overall, 5-2 Big Nine). If Austin can beat JM at home, it won’t have nearly as much pressure on it when it plays at West Jan. 28 and at JM Feb. 18.

“It’s a big game on our home floor,” Fadness said. We have no excuses. We’ve had two good practices and we feel good.”