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Pack stumbles in state quarterfinals

MINNEAPOLIS – The Austin girls basketball team couldn’t keep up with the speed and strength of No. 2 seeded Robbinsdale-Cooper in a 72-40 loss in the Minnesota Class AAA Girls State Tournament quarterfinals in Maturi Pavilion at the University of Minnesota Wednesday.

The Hawks (21-8 overall), who won the Class AAA title last year, scored the last seven points of the first half  to go up 16 points. RC’s speed broke the game open in the second half as they forced 21 Austin turnovers and turned the game into a track meet.

Austin’s Abby Lewis turns to the hoop off the drive against Robbinsdale Cooper in the first half during the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AAA Girls State Basketball Tournament Wednesday in the University of Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“When you combine size, speed and shooting that’s a recipe for a championship season and that’s what they are until somebody beats them,” Austin head coach Eric Zoske said. “I think in the half court set, we felt that we had the advantage, but they had the advantage of speed in the full court. They are relentless and they are in your face.”

Austin senior Abby Lewis scored seven of her 15 points in the first four minutes of the game to bring the Packers (20-9 overall) within 10-7 early on, but Austin wasn’t able to keep up.

Austin’s Kyra Walters vyes for a rebound in the first half against Robbinsdale Cooper during the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AAA Girls State Basketball Tournament Wednesday in the University of Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It was definitely really tough playing against them. We were trying to match up with them one-on-one,” Lewis said. “Our effort was always there and we were always working hard. (Their speed) is pretty surprising out there.”

The Hawks scored the first six points of the contest and never trailed. Kyra Walters scored to get the Packers within 17-13 in the first half, but that was as close as Austin would get.

Austin’s Kiwi VanZant looks to chase down a loose ball in the first half against Robbinsdale Cooper during the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AAA Girls State Basketball Tournament Wednesday in the University of Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“When you look at the first five minutes of the game it was easy to see we were the team that hadn’t been here in 11 years and were playing against the defending state champions. The nerves showed early on,” Zoske said. “I thought we played well until things got away from us a little bit in the last five or six minutes of the first half.”

Kierra Wheeler, a sophomore center, racked up 19 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks, three steals and four assists for RC.

“She was definitely hard to defend,” Lewis said. “I didn’t expect her to be as quick as she was, but she’s a pretty good player.”

Austin will play Marshall in a consolation game at Concordia-St. Paul at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Ausitn’s Chloe Sheehan moves against the Robbinsdale Cooper defense in the first half during the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AAA Girls State Basketball Tournament Wednesday in the University of Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin 24  16  –  40
RC 40  32  –  72

Austin scoring: Abby Lewis, 15; Kyra Walters, 6; Hope Dudycha, 5; Emma Dudycha, 4; Kiwi VanZant, 2; Ellie Tupy, 2; Erica Lundberg, 2; Colie Justice, 2; Elyse Hebrink, 1; Chloe Sheehan, 1; field goals: 34 percent (13-for-38); three-pointers: 29 percent (4-for-14); free throws: 56 percent (10-for-18); rebounds: 28 (VanZant, 6); turnovers: 21

RC scoring: Aja Wheeler, 22; Kierra Wheeler, 19; Arthel Massaquoi, 9; Jayla Reliford, 8; Asia Smith, 6; Sierra Lynch, 4; Andrea Tribble, 4; free throws: 63 percent (12-for-19); turnovers: 9