The big games of 2016

Published 5:05 pm Saturday, December 31, 2016

Throughout any high school sports year, there are many great finishes and great performances. But sometimes in the grind of a season, those moments can get lost in the rear-view mirror.

Here’s a look at the 13 most memorable contests from the 2016:

Packers turn it around

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Dec. 20

It looked like the Austin girls basketball team was cooked.

The Packers trailed Mankato West 17-0 eight minutes into the game and they couldn’t buy a bucket. But Austin didn’t panic, and it didn’t give up. When the smoke cleared, the Packers walked away with a 76-56 win.

The Packers picked up their play and they began to pick away at the lead and they took the lead for good when Awenia Nywesh, who had 17 points and seven rebounds in the win, scored to make it 29-28.

Austin used an 11-0 run to start the second half and put the Scarlets away.

Rebels beat the buzzer

Dec. 6

Garret Mullenbach started the season off with a shot he’ll always remember for the Southland boys basketball team. With the Rebels trailing Kingsland by one point, Mullenbach was able to work his way inside and score to beat the buzzer and give his team a 71-70 win.

Mullenbach finished with 18 points.

Four for Four

Nov. 25

While there wasn’t a lot of drama when the Grand Meadow football team racked up its fourth straight Minnesota Class Nine Man State Football championship, there was plenty of action. GM senior Christophor Bain racked up 377 yards of offense and he scored four TDs to lead the Superlarks to a 41-21 win over Cleveland in the championship game.

The win was the 50th consecutive victory for the Larks, who have won more state titles (4) than total losses (3) in the last five seasons.

Vikings shake the curse

Nov. 3

The Hayfield volleyball team shook off some ghosts of playoffs past when they finally knocked off top ranked Faribault Bethlehem Academy 18-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-23 in the Section 1A West title match.

Hayfield had been knocked off by FBA in each of the past four seasons, but it was able to turn the tables in 2016.

Carrie Rutledge had 20 kills and 31 digs in the win for the Vikings and Maggie Streightiff had 14 kills and 30 set assists.

Packers get revenge

Oct. 26

The Austin football team showed how much improvement it made throughout the season when it beat Rochester John Marshall 28-12 in the Section 1AAAAA quarterfinals.

The Rockets had opened the season with a 45-20 win over Austin.

Tabarie Gunsallus ran wild in the win for Austin as he had 286 rushing yards and two TDs.

Austin hadn’t beaten JM since 2009 and it was the first Packer playoff win since 2013.

Taking charge

Sept. 17

The Austin boys soccer team did a lot of big things in 2016, but perhaps its biggest win of the year came when it beat Rochester Lourdes 1-0 in overtime.

The win was the first time the Packers had beaten the Eagles since 2009 and it also allowed Austin to sweep all four Rochester schools for the first time ever.

The Packers beat Lourdes when senior Abel Gebrikiros, who moved to Austin from Ethiopia in his junior year, scored his third game-winning goal of the year in OT.

Hounds win with big drama

Aug. 14

The Austin Greyhounds showed how clutch they can be when they beat Eagan 6-5 in 12 innings a deciding game three of a Section 4 Tournament series to get to the state tournament.

Matt Cano drew a bases loaded walk to win the game with two outs in the 12th inning after Austin had tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning on a three-run homer by Nate Conner.

Hayfield holds on

June 2

The Hayfield softball team was able to overcome a letdown to turn the tables on Wabasha-Kellogg as the Vikings got back to their second straight Minnesota Class A State Softball Tournament.

Hayfield dropped a state qualifying game 20-8 to the Falcons, and then it put the ball in the hands of sophomore Jacie Gustine, who pitched the Vikings to a 12-4 win in a must-win elimination game.

Maggie Streightiff had three RBIs in the win for Hayfield.

Cotter delivers for Athletics

May 17

Lyle-Pacelli senior Jordan Cotter delivered one of the biggest hits of his life when he came up with a walk-off RBI single to knock off No. 1 ranked Randolph baseball team 3-2 in 10 innings.

LP senior Daniel Bollingberg pitched all 10 innings to get the win for the Athletics as he allowed 12 hits, zero walks and he struck out nine.

Big win for the Pack

May 6

The Austin baseball team came up with one of its biggest wins in recent years when it beat No. 1 ranked Mankato West 7-1.

Garett Ruroden scattered four hits in five innings to get the win for the Packers and Dylan Gasner went three-for-three with three RBIs.

Bruins surge back

March 27

The Austin Bruins trailed by four goals, but they were able to bounce back and win 7-5 against Aberdeen.

Jacob Paganelli scored Austin’s third goal in a 10-minute stretch of the second period to give the Bruins the lead for good. Aberdeen had led 4-0 after it scored four goals in the first 14 minutes of the game.

Courage under fire

Feb. 18

The Lyle-Pacelli boys basketball team was willing to go the extra mile when it beat Randolph 59-58 in double overtime

Lee Bauer gave LP the win when he converted a lay-up on a dish from Jordan Cotter with six seconds left in the game. LP forced the first overtime when Braden Kocer pulled down an offensive rebound and hit two free throws with six-tenths of a second left to force the extra session.

LP had trailed 31-21 with 14:25 left in the second half.

Blossoms connect twice

Jan. 5

The Blooming Prairie boys basketball team came up with two huge shots to beat Faribault Bethlehem Academy 62-60 in OT.

Anthony Nelson hit a pull-up three-pointer to force overtime and Jake Ressler gave BP the win when he made a lay-up with 3.8 seconds left in OT.

Nelson had 27 points in the win for BP.