Pack shows their strength in statement win over No. 4 West

Published 10:46 pm Friday, December 14, 2018

The Austin girls basketball team already knew it had a pretty good squad this year. Now it’s put the rest of the Big Nine on notice.

The Packers controlled the pace for much of the second half and they were able to hold off a late charge to knock off No. 4 ranked Mankato West 75-74 in Overtime Berven Gym Friday.

The Scarlets (5-1 overall, 4-0 Big Nine) scored nine points in the final 25 seconds in the game as they converted two and-ones and connected on a three-pointer with four-tenths of a second left, but Austin was left celebrating when the buzzer sounded.

Kiwi VanZant recovers a loose ball for the Packers. Rocky Hulne/

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“This is an instant classic game. It was two really good teams and it was a lot of fun,” Austin head coach Eric Zoske said. “Our girls have put in a lot of hard work over the summer and in the weight room. I thought it was more us proving (how good we are). We were 18th in QRF and I thought that was a little low. We’re ready to show other teams what we already know about how good we are.”

The Packers (6-1 overall, 5-0 Big Nine) took the lead for good when Elyse Hebrink knocked down two free throws to put her team up 33-31 and Hope Dudycha converted a three-point play off a steal from Emma Dudycha to make it 36-41 with 14:45 left in the game.

Austin shot 87 percent from the free throw line and Abby Lewis, who had 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists, went seven-for-eight from the charity stripe down the stretch.

Abby Lewis attempts a jump shot for the Packers. Rocky Hulne/

“You go back to practice, where you’ve made those free throws a million times and you just think of that,” Lewis said. “This win means the world. We stayed calm and we worked together. We’re thankful for the community support and all of the people who came out to watch tonight.”

The Scarlets came out with a lot of defensive pressure, but the Packers were able to break that press and turn it into easy scores as it put together a 9-2 spurt to go up 57-48 with 5:50 left. Lewis hit a three and had a put-back in that run and Erica Lundberg had a breakaway lay-up.

Emma finished with five steals for Austin and Hope racked up 11 points, five rebounds and three steals.

“We’ve all worked hard and put in the extra time,” Hope said. “We trusted each other tonight.”

Hope Dudycha dishes the ball for the Packers against Mankato West in Ove Berven Gym Friday. Rocky Hulne/

West 29  45    74

Austin 26  49    75

Austin scoring: Abby Lewis, 18; Colie Justice, 12; Hope Dudycha, 11; Kiwi VanZant, 8; Kyra Walter, 7; Erica Lundberg, 6; Chloe Sheehan, 6; Elyse Hebrink, 5; Emma Dudycha, 2; free throws: 87 percent (20-for-23); rebounds: 32 (Lewis, 7); turnovers: 18

Austin’s Colie Justice attacks the hoop against Mankato West’s Brianna Stoltzman in Ove Berven Gym Friday. Rocky Hulne/