No rest for the motivated: Packer basketball trio has been hard at it this summer

Published 7:55 pm Monday, August 7, 2017

It’s been almost six months since the Austin boys basketball team had its Minnesota Class AAA state title hopes come crashing down in a 72-44 loss to DeLaSalle, but Tate Hebrink, Both Gach and Duoth Gach haven’t had a lot of time to sit back and think about that night.

The trio spent the summer staying pretty active as they toured the AAU circuit and they’ve left a lasting impression in tournaments held all over the country. Both was named All-Deng Camp First team, which is held by NBA veteran Luol Deng for Sudanese players, and Duoth was honorable mention at the Deng Camp. Both and Douth both have Division I NJCAA offers.

“We played against good competition and we made a lot of friends,” Duoth said. “We played in a lot of tournaments.”

Austin’s Duoth Gach works around the perimeter during the first half against DeLaSalle in the Class AAA Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament championship at Target Center. Herald File Photo

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When he wasn’t working out with the Packer football team, Hebrink was busy playing basketball this summer as well. He played AAU locally and he was able to step up for the Austin summer team when Both and Duoth were out of town playing AAU ball.

“I’ve had to find my shot and look to shoot more and score more when they weren’t there,” Hebrink said. “My summer went alright. It’s always fun playing with other people, getting to know them and making friends.”

Both said playing against tough competition over the summer has helped him strive to make improvements on the court.

“You’ve just got to keep pushing and improve as much as you can,” Both said.

When the trio looks back on their loss to the Islanders in last year’s state title game, all three point to the slow start as the reason for Austin’s downfall. Hebrink added that he was nervous on the big stage and that slowed him down a little.

Austin’s Tate Hebrink finds room in the lane during the second half against St. Thomas Academy in the Minnesota Class AAA Boys State Basketball Tournament quarterfinals in the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena. Herald File Photo

As they look towards their final season together, Hebrink, who averaged 9.5 points per game last season, Duoth, who averaged 15.8 points per game last season, and Both, who averaged 15.8 points per game last season, are ready to make one more run at the state crown.

“I think we’re kind of gelling. We’ve got some new guys that will step up too,” Both said. “If everyone plays their game and goes with the flow, we can build up our confidence early. We’ve got to play loose throughout the year.”

There have been famous twins who have played college basketball together in the past as current NBA players Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez played together at Stanford University and current NBA players Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris played together at Kansas. But the Gach twins aren’t striving to play together at the next level. More than likely, they’ll be headed to different schools.

The twins also aren’t feeling emotional about their last season together. Duoth said the biggest thing they have on their mind is to win.

“We’ll go our separate ways [after this year]. We’ll just go out there and play our game during the year,” Duoth said. “I’m pretty excited to try to get another run again. [If we see DeLaSalle again] we’ve got to come out harder next time and start strong from the beginning.”

Austin recently finished in fourth place in the Pacesetter Sweet 16 tournament. Austin beat Mayer Lutheran 88-81 and it topped Cretin Derham Hall 75-72. Austin lost to Park Center 79-75 in the semifinals and it fell to Hopkins 88-85 in the third place game.

Apple Valley won the championship, beating Park Center 87-66.

Austin’s Both Gach splits St. Thomas Academy’s Jack Stolpman, left, and Sam Vascellaro, right, on a layup in the second half in the Minnesota Class AAA Boys State Basketball Tournament quarterfinals in the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena. Herald File Photo