Packers knocked out of state title contention

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — The Austin boys basketball team was trying to come back from a 16-point deficit against a hot-shooting Delano team in the Minnesota Class AAA semifinals, when Moses Issa drove to the hoop and drew a foul.

Issa and the Packers gazed up at the rim as the ball hung on the rim for a few seconds before it casually rolled around and off the edge of the iron. Issa went up an missed two free throws and the Packers still trailed 62-46 with 8:19 left.

It was that kind of a day for the Packers, who saw their hopes of a state title come to an end as they lost 80-68 to the Tigers in Target Center Thursday.

Email newsletter signup

Austin (27-3 overall) did rally to get within 67-60 after Issa hit a three-pointer with 4:02 left in the game, but that was as close as it would get. Issa, who finished 15 points, Duoth Gach, who finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four steals, and Tate Hebrink, who had six points and five assists will all wrap up their long-time Packer careers when Austin plays DeLaSalle in the third place game in Concordia University in St. Paul 2 p.m. Saturday.

Austin’s Moses Issa shoots against Delano’s Trey Longstreet in the Minnesota Class AAA semifinals Thursday afternoon in Target Center. Eric Johnson/

All three players have been varsity players since they were sophomores and Austin head coach Kris Fadness will miss them and the other seniors heavily next season.

“These guys have helped our culture and we’ve got a good thing going in Austin,” Fadness said. “The foundation was probably laid with [Tom and Joe] Aase’s, [Zach] Wessels and Gach Gach and these guys have just added to our tradition. To get to state two years in a row, to play in some big games and to play in high school games that you sell out, these guys are leaving a really strong legacy behind them. For me it’s been nice to watch them grow as people and see them mature. This is tough for them. I love these guys. They love basketball and they’re working hard in the classroom, I’m proud of them and I’m looking forward to following their career path and I’ll be their biggest fan.”

Austin has played in five of the last seven state tournaments, but the Packers are still looking for their first state title since 1958.