Packer girls beat Mankato East on senior night

Published 10:45 pm Friday, February 16, 2018

The Austin girls basketball team put up a strong second half effort to beat Mankato East 62-56 on senior night in Ove Berven Gym Friday.

Austin junior Abby Lewis, who had 21 points and five rebounds, hit a three-pointer from the baseline to put the Packers (12-11 overall, 11-8 Big Nine) up 47-43 with 5:16 left in the game and Austin was able to close things out at the line down the stretch.

Austin’s Hope Dudycha press the ball up court against Mankato East’s Abby Gram during the first half Friday night in Ove Berven Gym. Eric Johnson/

“That game had tournament game written all over it with the style of play,” Austin head coach Eric Zoske said. “Throw out the records and you have two teams that are athletic and both really want to win. That’s a good game for us.”

Email newsletter signup

The Cougars (5-18 overall, 5-15 Big Nine) held a 32-24 lead early in the second half when the Packers bounced back with an 11-0 burst to go up 35-32. Emma Dudycha hit a three-pointer to put Austin up for good at 33-32 and Lewis hit two free throws to make it 35-32.

Kiwi VanZant had a big game in the paint for the Packers as she finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Lewis did a solid job of finding VanZant inside in the second half.

“We started working together as a team to get stops on defense and that led to easy baskets in transition,” Lewis said. “It was really big to get it into Kiwi and she had a really big game for us.”

Austin’s Emily Hegna dribbles against Mankato East’s Mackenzie Schweim (22) and Lexi Karge during the first half Friday night in Ove Berven Gym. Eric Johnson/

Senior Emily Hegna had eight points and three assists and Paiton Schwab added two points and three rebounds. Zoske said both players have been key for him in his first year as head coach.

“They’ve been great,” Zoske said. “I think I can clearly say this is the best senior-led team I’ve ever coached and it starts at the top with our captains Paiton and Emily. They’ve helped develop a new culture with this program and it all starts with character.”

East 29  27    56 

Austin 24  38    62

Austin scoring: Abby Lewis, 21; Kiwi VanZant, 15; Emily Dudycha, 9; Emily Hegna, 8; Hope Dudycha, 4; Chloe Sheehan, 3; Paiton Schwab, 2; free throws: 78 percent (18-for-23); turnovers: 8

Austin’s Kiwi VanZant looks for the putback in the first half against Mankato East Friday night in Ove Bervn Gym. Eric Johnson/