Packers apply pressure and pounce on KoMets

Published 12:40 pm Sunday, March 13, 2022

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The top-seeded Austin boys basketball team cranked up the pressure in the second half as it disposed of No. 4 Kasson-Mantorville (18-10 overall) 71-39 in a Section 1AAA semifinal in Packer Gym Friday.

The Packers (16-12 overall) broke the game open with their press when they put together a 14-0 run in a five-minute spurt to go up 53-29 halfway through the second half. Ater Manyuon, who had 14 points and four steals, scored six straight points on breakaway chances to ignite the run.

While Austin started the game slow and the Packers only led by four at halftime, they were in full stride when they began harassing KM’s backcourt. Austin forced 19 KM turnovers in the victory.

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“We knew they couldn’t really handle pressure and we saw that it was working tonight,” said Austin junior Cham Okey, who had 13 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Austin led by as much as 26-19 in the first half after Buai Duop scored on a put-back and Okey hit a three-pointer with 1:02 left in the session.

KM garnered a slice of momentum before the buzzer when Camden Holecek drilled a baseline three-pointer with 39 seconds left in the half.

The game was the final home contest for Austin head coach Kris Fadness, who is set to retire from coaching at season’s end. Fadness has over 400 wins in Austin and over 500 wins in his high school coaching career.

“We had to win coach’s last home game ever,” Manyuon said. “I didn’t want it to be our last game either. We had to play hard and have fun.”

Austin will play No. 2 Winona (18-10 overall) in the Section 1AAA title game at Mayo Civic Center at 8 p.m. Friday. The Packers swept the season series from the Winhawks, but both games were decided by less than 10 points.

KM 22 17 – 39

Austin 26 45 – 71

Austin scoring: Ater Manyuon, 14; Cham Okey, 13; Victor Idris, 12; Jack Lang, 6; Jared Lillemon, 6; Gage Manahan, 6; Kaden Murley, 4; Buai Duop, 4; Othow Gari, 3; Jacob Herrick, 3; free throws: 66 percent (6-for-9); turnovers: 14