Hulne: Packer basketball teams hope to shake off the lull

Published 7:34 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The winter sports season often becomes a non-stop grind from January to March, but a recent spout with weather cancellations has given area teams a rare chance to hit the brakes and regain their drive.

When the Austin boys basketball team plays at Albert Lea Thursday night, it will be its first game since Jan. 12 and the Austin girls basketball team hosts Albert Lea, it will be its first game since Jan. 11. While getting a break of over days without a game is rare for any high school sport, both squads are dealing with it in their own ways.

The Packer girls have now played just four games since Dec. 22 and they’ve lost their last two. They’ve used the break to reset and refocus for the second half of the season. The team will now have to navigate a tough stretch of three straight three-game weeks, assuming the weather pattern doesn’t alter things anymore.

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I don’t think I’ve ever had this before,” Austin head girls basketball head coach Eric Zoske said. “It really does make things interesting from here on out. But the girls are so happy all of the time that we could have practice any time of the day and I think they’d be happy with it. That’s just their personality.”

The Packer boys are riding a four-game win streak, but the team has had just two practices in the last five days and now it will play two games in two days.

It’s not ideal and it’s not what we want, but it is what it is and you have to make do the best you can,” Austin head boys basketball Kris Fadness said. “I try to take a positive approach to it and say that our season is three and a half to four months long and maybe a little break like this is good for the kids to refresh and rejuvenate.”

The midpoint of the season often turns into a battle of complacency as Fadness said players begin to settle into their roles and stop fighting to move up on the roster. Fadness hopes his team can avoid the lull as the Packers look to push forward in the second half of the season.

“The guys are probably a little sick of practice right now, but we want guys to still work hard to make yourself better and make your teammates better,” Fadness said.