Packers get plenty of contributions to beat West

Published 10:14 pm Friday, February 1, 2019

Austin senior Gavin Owens is used to playing undersized this season, but it hasn’t stopped him from playing a vital role for the Packers as they racked up a seventh straight win by beating Mankato West 77-44 in Packer Gym Friday.

While Austin has played small-ball this season, with five all starters 6-foot, 2-inches tall or shorter, Owens, who plays center, has a big role in the paint. On Friday, he helped the Packers stay close by racking up most of his six steals in a first half that saw Austin struggle with its jump shot.

Austin’s GAvin Owens turns to the hoop against Mankato West Friday night in Packer Gym. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.cojm

“It’s all about effort. You’ve got to work hard,” said Owens, who added two points and three rebounds in the win. “I’m not as big as some of those kids, but if you work hard, you’ll get some rebounds. I don’t really get intimated out there.”

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Despite shooting just 20 percent on threes in the first half, the Packers (12-2 overall, 11-1 Big Nine) took a 35-20 lead into the break. West (4-12 overall, 2-10 Big Nine) got as close as 35-27 when the Packers finally found their shot. Jeremy Flores hit a big three to get the run started and Medi Obang, who had 27 points, threw an alley-oop to Agwa Nywesh, who finished with 20 points, to keep the rally going.

Austin’s Pierre Lilly contends for a rebound with Mankato West’s Buomkuoth Jock in the first half Friday night in Packer Gym. Eric Johnson/

“That was a momentum lifter,” Obang said of his lob to Nywesh. “That’s the first time I’ve thrown him an oop.”

Austin head coach Kris Fadness said the team was a little sluggish after not practicing for much of the week due to school closings. He said that Flores stepped up at a time when the team needed him to.

“Jeremy Flores hit the biggest shot of the game,” Fadness said. “We couldn’t make a shot and Jeremy came off the bench after not playing at all. He hit a big three and it was a like a pressure release.”

Fadness also credited Owens with what he’s brought to Austin this season.

“Gavin is strong for his size,” Fadness said. “He’s a good athlete, he’s good off the dribble and he can space the floor and spread people out. His skill set fits in really well with our guards. He’s a good basketball player.”

Austin’s LaHenry Gills floats through the lane, looking for an outlet in the first half against Mankato West Friday night in Packer Gym. Eric Johnson/

The Scarlets feature a young lineup that may pose a threat in the Big Nine in years to come. Austin was plus 20 turnovers in Friday’s win, but Fadness thinks West will improve over time.

“Mankato West has a young and talented team and sometimes you’ve got to go through some growing pains but they have a lot of young talent,” Fadness said. “(Mehki) Collins and (Buomkuoth Jock) are going to be very good players for them. But it’s hard to win with freshmen in this conference.”

Dongrin Deng had six rebounds, five steals and four assists for Austin.

West 20  24    44

Austin 35  42    77

Austin scoring: Medi Obang, 27; Agwa Nywesh, 20; Ngor Deng, 12; LaHenry Gills, 8; Pierre Lilly, 5; Jeremy Flores, 3; Gavin Owens, 2; free throws: 67 percent (8-for-12); rebounds: 27 (Dongrin Deng, 6); turnovers: 3

Ausitn’s Connor Byram with the ball on top of the arc against Mankato West Friday night in Packer Gym. Eric Johnson/