Packers start fast and share the wealth as 14 players score in playoff opener

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

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The No. 2 seeded Austin boys basketball team opened the playoffs with a full fledged attack on No. 7 Red Wing in the opening minutes as Austin won 79-40 in a Section 1AAA quarterfinal in Packer Gym Tuesday.

Austin (17-10 overall) was all effort on defense early on as it jumped out to a 41-13 lead with seven minutes left in the first half. Buai Duop muscled in a pair of early inside shots Isaac Osgood and Ben Diang hit early threes, and Ater Manyuon had a couple of run-out jams in the fast start.

“The first 15 minutes of the game is what every coach wants,” Austin head coach Jamaal Gibson said. “It looked like we had six or seven guys on defense and the ball was moving around. It was all about the team getting a basket. Nobody cared who scored and it was about getting the team a score.”

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The Wingers (3-24 overall) got as close as 43-29 in the second half, but Austin put them away when Manyuon and Dane Mitchell hit back-to-back threes to make it 49-29 with 11:34 left.

“We know how much we have to lose. We weren’t having this be our last game as seniors. It’s always more fun when everybody is part of the game,” said Manyuon, who had 19 points and four rebounds. “We’ve got to be locked in. There’s no time to make mistakes or goof off.”

Fourteen players reached the scoring column in the win for the Packers (17-10 overall) as ball movement was constant. Jack Lang kept everyone involved in offense as he tallied nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

“It really helped that we started strong and we kind of rolled from there,” Lang said. “We’ve struggled with starting this year, but tonight we started with some energy and kept it going. “

Osgood had five points and seven rebounds for Austin and Duop finished with eight points and four rebounds.

The Packers will now host No. 3 Winona in a Section 1AAA semifinal in Packer Gym at 7 p.m. Saturday. Austin beat Winona 76-57 on Jan. 10, but the Packers lost to the Winhawks 63-62 on Feb. 17.

“It’s nice that it’s a home game,” Gibson said. “We played pretty good basketball against Winona except for the last two minutes the last time we played them. We’re familiar with them.”

The Packers don’t have a lot of players back from last year’s team that played in the state tournament, but the ones who were there have tried to prepare their teammates for how tough the games are going to get.

“It’s exciting this time of year, but we’ve just got to stay focused,” Lang said. “We want to keep that streak going.”

RW 21  19    40

Austin 41  38    79

Austin scoring: Ater Manyuon, 19; Jack Lang, 9; Dane Mitchell, 8; Buai Duop, 8; Manny Guy, 6; Isaac Osgood, 5; Ben Diang, 5; Jacob Herrick, 3; Andrew Clausman, 3; Cameron Swenson, 3; Jack Clausman, 2; Dakota Retterath, 2; Morries Jabateh, 2; Otong Nyikew, 2