Packer girls turn the tables on Wingers

Published 9:44 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

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The Austin girls basketball team overcame some speed bumps to avenge an earlier loss to Red Wing as it beat the Wingers 65-59 in Packer Gym Thursday.

Austin (13-6 overall) played a good portion of the night without senior Olivia Walsh, who had 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks while battling foul trouble, and it trailed by ten points in the first few minutes of the contest.

Walsh, who had to watch the last few minutes after fouling out, did make an impact in a key 8-0 burst that put the Packers up for good at 54-46. Walsh hit a baseline three, converted a drive for a score and she found Cassidy Shute for a three in the rally.

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“(The foul trouble) was very frustrating, but playing basketball for so long, you kind of get used to that,” Walsh said. “You can’t be down on yourself. We had some really big minutes from Nyabol (Mourwal) in the first half and Isabella (Weideman) definitely stepped up for us. This was the biggest game that we needed her in.”

The Wingers made a big final push to get within 61-59 after Sammi Chandler converted two steals for lay-ups in a span of 13 seconds, but Austin iced the game when sophomore Ajiem Agwa, who scored 18 points, was able to drive to the rim and score to make it 63-59 with 2:07 left.

“Ajiem had a breakout game in last year’s section finals, but she averaged like two points a game last year,” Austin head coach Eric Zoske said. “Now she’s averaging like 16 a game. Her growth this year has been incredible, especially in those crunch moments. That was a fantastic play from almost halfcourt, taking that girl one on one and scoring.”

The Packers trailed 13-3 to start the game and Walsh was on the bench with foul trouble, but Austin made a big surge to get back in the game with a 11-0 run. Ajiem Agwa, Quinn Osgood and Marissa Shute all hit threes during the rally.

Austin also fell in an early hole as it lost to Red Wing (13-4 overall) 62-42 on Dec. 13.

“The two games started very similarly. I think the difference is we have matured a little bit,” Zoske said. “Earlier in the year if Olivia would’ve been out with fouls, we would’ve been in a lot of trouble. That’s a big sign of us growing as a team and a collective unit.”

Cassidy Shute finished with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists for Austin and her sister Marissa Shute had six points, eight rebounds and three steals. Cassidy said the Packers came into the contest with extra motivation.

“We played probably our worst game that we ever played at Red Wing (in December),” Cassidy said. “That game wasn’t us and we know who we are. We got down by ten, but we kept going at it. I’m proud of everyone who stepped on the court tonight.” 

Red Wing 34  25  –  59

Austin 34  31  –  65

Austin scoring: Ajiem Agwa, 18; Oliva Walsh, 15; Cassidy Shute, 15; Quinn Osgood, 9; Mariss Shute, 6; Nyabol Mourwal, 2