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Convincing Victory: Packers hold down Raiders to get to state

ROCHESTER — The No. 4 seeded Austin girls basketball team didn’t leave any room for doubt that it deserves the Section 1A as it took down No. 2 Northfield 62-50 in Mayo Civic Center Friday.

It will be Austin’s first trip to state since 2008.

The Packers (20-8 overall) forced 21 turnovers as they collapsed their defense on Northfield’s go-to post player Rachel Kelly, who still managed to score 21. Kelly had put up 28 in the Austin’s last meeting with the Raiders (17-12 overall).

Austin’s Emma Dudycha handles the ball in the corner against Northfield during the first half in the Section 1AAA championship Friday night in Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Kyra Walters played a big role up front for the Packers as she helped contain Kelly, while scoring 17 points herself.

“I just didn’t let her push me around. I put my arms straight up and let her take it at me,” Walters said. “(On offense), I just kept moving around and tried to find the open spot. When I got it, I had to go up hard.”

The Raiders never held a lead in the second half and Austin boosted its lead by as many as 16. The Packers seized momentum when Hope Dudycha and Walters knocked down back-to-back threes to make it 42-30 with 12:30 left in the game.

The Packers closed the first half on a high note as they put together a 12-3 run over the final seven minutes of the frame to take a 32-22 lead into the break.

Elyse Hebrink hit a key baseline three-pointer to make it 25-19 and Walters converted a three-point play to make it 30-19 with 1:55 left in the half.

Hebrink, who watched her older brother Tate play in the state tournament last year, finished with 11 points in the win.

Austin’s Hope Dudycha with a shot in the first half against Northfield in the Section 1AAA championship Friday night in Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“This is what you work for going all the way back to Austin Youth Basketball. I watched my brother go to state and I’ve always wanted to go too,” Hebrink said. “I think that we really all had the mentality that if we wanted to come out on top, we had to come out from the beginning. We couldn’t let them get a lead on us.”

Austin head coach Eric Zoske said the Packers had struggled with slow starts in their previous four  games and he was glad to see the Packers take the lead early on.

“We started out a lot better than we have in the last couple of games. When you start out strong and you get those nerves out of your way. All nine of those girls contributed,” Zoske said. “We had to pressure their guards and make life as hard for them as we possibly could.”

Hope Dudycha had eight points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals for Austin and Colie Justice added 16 points, three assists and three steals.

The Packers have seemed to hit their stride in the tournament and Hebrink credited that to the team’s unselfish attitude.

“We’ve played the same game all year,” she said. “But I think we’re finding our teammates better and we’re playing as a whole team.”

Austin’s Kiwi VanZant with the shot underneath in the first half against Northfield in the Section 1AAA championship Friday night in Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin  32  30  –  62
Northfied 22  28  –  50
Austin scoring: Kyra Walters, 17; Colie Justice, 16; Elyse Hebrink, 11; Hope Dudycha, 8; Emma Dudycha, 4; Kiwi VanZant, 4; free throws: 67 percent (22-for-33); rebounds: 25 (Walters, 25); turnovers: 12

Austin Colie Justice races the ball up the court in the first half against Northfield in the Section 1AAA championship Friday night in Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com