In it to win it: Packers will take on Northfield Friday

Published 7:17 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2017

While some Austin high school students are spending their spring break down south on the beach or using it to catch up on some rest, the Packer boys basketball team is trying to stay focused on what will be their biggest game in the last three seasons.

It hasn’t been easy.

“Having spring break right now is not ideal,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “It is what it is and you make the best of it. They’re high school kids, it’s been a long season and they want to play the games.”

Austin’s Kyle Oberbroeckling gets an early two against Byron in the Section 1AAA semifinals Saturday afternoon in Rochester. Herald File Photo

Austin’s Kyle Oberbroeckling gets an early two against Byron in the Section 1AAA semifinals Saturday afternoon in Rochester. Herald File Photo

The Packers (26-2 overall) will play in their first Section 1AAA title game since 2014 as they take on Northfield (17-11 overall) in Mayo Civic Center in Rochester 6 p.m. Friday. Austin swept the regular season series from the Raiders as it won 68-60 in Austin Jan. 6 and it beat the Raiders 61-47 in Northfield Feb. 14.

Friday’s game will feature a contrast of styles as the Packers, who out-score their opponents 73.8-55.5 on average, will look to get out and run and the Raiders, who out-score their opponents on average of 66.2-59.8, will likely try to keep the Packers in a half-court game.

Email newsletter signup

“I think the whole focus for them is to control the tempo,” Fadness said. “ They’re going to want to keep the game in the half court and they’re going to want to slow the game down and make it a grind it out game. We want to create some steals and get some turnovers and run out and go.”

Defensively, the Packers will turn their focus to Nortfhield senior forward Hunter Koep and junior guard Alex Rasmussen. Koep is a bruiser who likes to get his points in the paint and Rasmussen is a shooting threat from the outside. Austin did a solid job of containing Koep in the paint in the two regular season matchups and they’re hoping to do that again on Friday.

“It’s always a goal for us to out-rebound the other team every game,” Austin senior Oman Oman said. “We just have to know where [Koep] is at at all times and we’ve got to watch for him in the high post. We can’t let him go to his right.”

Waiting a week for the matchup has been tough for the Packers, but when a trip to the state tournament is on the line, they aren’t complaining.

“It’s been a long wait, but it’s worth it. It’s the championship game,” Oman said.

Austin senoir Kyle Oberbroeckling still feels the sting from last year when Northfield ended Austin’s season in the Section 1AAA semifinals. He is close friends with a lot of the Austin players who graduated from that team and he’s hoping to get some pay-back this time around against the Raiders. Oberboeckliing is also hoping this Packer team can do something Austin did three straight years when it went to state in 2012, 2013 and 2014 behind the play of grads Zach Wessels, Joe Aase, Tom Aase, Ajuda Nywesh and Gach Gach.

“I feel like there was a Wessels and Aase era, and I feel like it would be cool to make our own era and go to state with the guys I’ve been playing with my whole life,” Oberbroeckling said.