That’s More Like It: Packer boys basketball team downs Rockets
Published 11:57 pm Friday, December 12, 2014
For the past three years the Packer boys basketball team has dominated the Big Nine Conference and for the past two of those seasons, Rochester John Marshall was directly standing in Austin’s shadow as the team that was aiming for Austin.
The Rockets won their first five games in the Big Nine this season and they were set to finally get a big win in Packer Gym Friday. But the Packers weren’t about to bow down that easily as they put up their best effort of the season to date in a 68-57 win.
Austin senior Gach Gach did a little of everything in the win for Austin (3-3 overall, 3-2 Big Nine) as he compiled 21 points, nine rebounds, three steals, four assists and three blocks.
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“We were really motivated. We had a good week of practice,” Gach Gach said. “They think they can win the Big Nine so we just wanted to come out really play our hearts out.”
Austin picked up some momentum late in the first half and that carried over to the second half as the Packers scored the first 11 points of the second frame to go up 36-21 with 14:53 left in the game. Gach Gach had six points during that run and Nik Gasner had the other five points, but Fadness pointed to the play at the end of the first half as the biggest one of the night.
The Rockets (6-1 overall, 5-1 Big Nine) were in the midst of a 6-0 run that pulled them to within 22-20 when Matthew Hurt missed a free throw. Austin took the ball and ran 1:13 off the clock before sophomore Oman Oman drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to put Austin back up by two possessions and the Rockets never got within one possession the rest of the night.
“To run that much clock off, to get a good shot off and for the kid to hit it. I thought that was the biggest possession of the game for us,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “The kids responded tonight. I’m really proud of the character of these guys, because it would be easy to get down after the losses we’ve had.”
JM pulled to within 48-41 after Ross Faber scored, but Gach Gach Gach answered with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to push the lead back to 53-41 with 5:53 left. Freshman Both Gach was also big for the Packers in the second half as he scored all 11 of his points in the second frame.
Zach Coffey, who had 15 points and four steals, helped the Packers put the game away as he came up with a couple of breakaway lay-ups down the stretch. Although Austin was coming off of a tough 57-56 loss to Northfield Tuesday, the Packers had no trouble getting pumped up Friday.
“We were all mentally prepared,” Coffey said. “I know I was ready for this game because I hate JM and I don’t want anything more than to beat them in any sport.”
Austin’s defense focused on junior Michael Hurt and eighth grader Matthew Hurt. Each of them scored 18 points on Friday, but most of those points came when the Rockets were trying to come back from a double digit hole in the second half.
Fadness wasn’t ecstatic about how his team closed out Friday’s win, but he was pleased with how his squad played for mosts of the night.
“I still think we were a little sloppy. We missed three of our last four free throws and we had a couple of turnovers,” Fadness said. “I was really happy with our offensive execution. We did a really good job of spreading the floor and we handled their press extremely well.”
The Packers may be sitting at .500, but their three losses are by a combined six points and their three wins are by a combined 40 points.
“We could’ve won every game we’ve played in, but it is what it is. We closed it out tonight,” Gach Gach said.
JM 21 36 — 57
Austin 25 43 — 68
Austin scoring: Gach Gach, 21; Zach Coffey, 15; Both Gach, 11; Levi Vierkandt, 7; Nik Gasner, 7; Noah Brehmer, 4; Oman Oman, 3; free throws: 68 percent (15-for-22)