Packer girls knocked off by Raiders

Published 8:30 pm Saturday, March 3, 2018

ROCHESTER – The No. 4 seeded Austin girls basketball team ran into a team that didn’t have any visible weaknesses when it lost to top-seeded Northfield (24-3 overall) 80-44 in theSection 1AAA semifinals at Mayo Civic Center Saturday.

Hope Dudycha hit a three-pointer to pull the Packers (14-14 overall) within 33-27 early in the second half, but the Raiders put together a 16-0 spurt to pull away. Dudycha, an eighth-grader, finished with 16 points in the loss.

“It was different, but we just had to come out strong and play our game,” Dudycha said. “We were trying to dig down and not let them get easy shots. Their guards were hitting and that was tough.”

Austin’s Hope Dudycha reveres track during the first half against Northfield in the Section 1AAA semifinals Saturday night in Rochester. Eric Johnson/

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Austin led 14-12 early after Dudycha hit a three-pointer, but the Raiders stormed back with an 11-0 run to go up 25-14. Northfield hit three straight three-pointers during the rally.

Northfield’s Taylor Ernste and Clara Noack caught fire from deep during that stretch.

“Northfield’s good. They’re senior loaded and they have a good program,” Austin head coach Eric Zoske said. “They had a couple of guards that hit more shots than what our game-plan coming in was hoping for. We had to focus on something because they have four six footers and we don’t have any. [Grace] Touche was our focus and we held her to three points in the first half and their other guards combined for 18 in the first half.”

With a young roster in tow and most players set to return, the Packers are hoping to be even more competitive on the court next season.

“Coach really wants us to hit the weight room and come in during the summer and work,” Dudycha said. “I think we’ll come back strong next year.”

Austin’s Emily Hegna reaches past Northfield’s Annalee Olson-Sola during the first half of a Section 1AAA semifinal game Saturday in Rochester. Eric Johnson/

Zoske is hoping the program can make big strides in his second year as coach.

“We’re just planting the seed with some of these kids, but at the same time it’s hard to say goodbye to two good leaders in our seniors,” Zoske said. “This was a good experience for us, we’re super young and I think we out-did a lot of people’s expectations this season.”

Austin 24 20 – 44

Northfield 33 47 – 80

Austin scoring: Abby Lewis, 16; Hope Dudycha, 16; Emily Hegna, 5; Emma Dudycha, 5; Kiwi VanZant, 3; Kyra Walters, 2; free throws: 90 percent (9-for-10); rebounds: 18 (Lewis, 5); turnovers: 18