Packers finish season unbeaten in Big Nine in playoff preview

Published 11:37 pm Saturday, February 22, 2014

Austin's Zach Coffey goes up for a layup against Faribault in Packer Gym Saturday. -- Rocky Hulne/

Austin’s Zach Coffey goes up for a layup against Faribault in Packer Gym Saturday. — Rocky Hulne/

The Austin boys basketball team wrapped up their second straight undefeated season in the Big Nine Conference as they topped Faribault 69-42 in Packer Gym Saturday.

The No. 4 ranked Packers (23-3 overall, 18-0 Big Nine) opened the game on a 22-0 run over the first eight minutes of the game and they never had any trouble the rest of the way. The fast start was key for Austin as the Packers will host the Falcons (2-24 overall, 0-18 Big Nine) in the Section 1AAA tournament quarterfinals Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“You want them coming back Wednesday not feeling really confident,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “We wanted to play well and get on them early. If you play a tight game, they’ll come in next Wednesday thinking they can beat us.”

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Austin had 12 players score in the win and Jacob Kempen gave the team a boost off the bench with five points and seven rebounds. When the Packers’ starters start strong it’s up to their bench to keep it going and that’s what happened Saturday night.

“We didn’t start the fastest when we played them at their place,” Kempen said. “We want to keep it going when we come off the bench and provide energy. We just approached it as any other game. We wanted to play good and get ready for sections. I think we did that.”

Ajuda Nywesh had 13 points for Austin and Bret Lukes had 12 points.

“Zach Coffey played well tonight and I’m happy for him,” Fadness said. “I think we’re going to need him in section play and it’s good to get him ready to play.”

The Packers have now gone two straight years without losing a game in the conference and they’ve won three straight conference crowns.

“It’s pretty special for us to win as many games in a row in this conference as ‘AAA’ school in a league that has four ‘AAAA’ schools. We did it with two different types of teams,” Fadness said. “Last year we had a little more size and a couple of scholarship players and this year’s team is more guard orientated.”

Kempen said the Packers take a lot of pride in what they’ve done in the past two years and the team is ready for the tournament, where they’ll come in as the top-seeded team.

“We’re leaving a legacy and it’s nice to be at the top,” Kempen said.

Faribault 18 24 — 42

Austin 39 30 — 69

Austin scoring: Ajduda Nywesh, 13; Bret Lukes, 12; Gach Gach, 11; Zach Coffey, 7; Curtis Oberbroeckling, 6; Jacob Kempen, 5; Noah Brehmer, 5; Zach Wessels, 4; Nik Gasner, 3; Adam Bergstrom, 1; Levi Vierkandt, 1; Jon Knorr, 1; free throws: 61 percent (14-for-23); rebounds: 37 (Gach, 7); turnovers: 8