Hope springs eternal: Packer senior sets scoring record in semifinal win over Byron

Published 9:03 pm Saturday, March 5, 2022

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Austin senior Hope Dudycha has had some big moments in Ove Berven Gym, but she made her final game in Austin’s home arena one of her most memorable performances as she set the all-time scoring mark for Austin High School and the Packers rolled past No. 4 seeded Byron 67-31 in a Section 1A semifinal Saturday.

Dudycha set the scoring record when she caught a pass from her twin sister Emma Dudycha and Hope knocked down a wing three-pointer to put the Packers up 55-28 with 5:24 left in the game. The game was briefly stopped and Hope, who scored 22 points and had three assists, was immediately mobbed by her teammates.

Hope was well aware before the game that she needed 21 points to catch Lisa Bue, a 2004 AHS grad who played at North Dakota State University and professionally overseas. 

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It was a little bit of a stretch, but it was nice to get it tonight so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the section final,” Hope said. “It’s an honor to be in the school’s history as one of the best scorers and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Hope now has 1,594 career points and she has at least one game left as the Packers will be playing No. 2 Stewartville with a chance for Austin’s third trip to state in Hope’s career. The game is scheduled to be played at Mayo Civic Center at 8 p.m. Friday.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Hope said. “We just have to have the right mindset going in. We’re excited to see everybody at the Civic Center.”

Austin opened the game on a 19-4 run and its defense smothered the Bears throughout the entire game. The Packers (23-5 overall) switched defenses four times in the first half alone as they confused Byron (16-11 overall) at times.

“We worked hard in practice over the past few weeks on getting stops and rebounds,” Austin senior Reanna Schmitt said. “Every possession counts and when the season’s on the line, you have to get it done.”

Schmitt, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, has played with Hope since the two were in AYB together and she has a lot of respect for her teammate, who is an explosive scorer at just five-feet, four-inches tall.

“I’m so honored to play with a player like Hope who is the best player in school history,” Schmitt said. “She shares the ball and she’s not selfish at all. That really speaks about her game.”

Zoske has always had faith in Hope’s ability to get a key score at any moment in big games and he’s seen many defenses fail at stopping her over the past few seasons.

“She’s been doing this for five years now,” Zoske said. “You talk about the athletic ability of Hope, but what separates her is her mental ability to never get rattled. She’s been able to get buckets for her entire career.”

Emma finished with eight points and four assists and Olivia Walsh had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

Byron 16  15  —  31

Austin 32  35  —  67

Austin scoring: Hope Dudycha, 22; Olivia Walsh, 12; Reanna Schmitt, 10; Emma Dudycha, 8; Cassidy Shute, 6; Ajiem Agwa, 5; Duna Oteng, 2; Kiru Othow, 2