Learning on the run: Packers gain steam with fourth straight win

Published 10:14 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

The Packers learned some tough lessons early this season, but now they’re starting to figure out what varsity boys basketball is all about.

After losing seven of its first eight games to start the year, Austin took its fourth straight victory when it beat Winona 69-58 in Packer Gym Tuesday.

Austin’s lead surpassed 20 points in the second half, but the Winhwawks pulled to within 57-42 before Isaac Osgood knocked down a clutch three to push the lead back to 60-42. Osgood, a senior, finished with 18 points as he knocked down four triples in the win. 

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The Packers are finally starting to click as the inexperienced squad adjusts to their first season of varsity basketball.

“We weren’t as experienced as other teams were, now that we’ve been playing some games, we’re hitting some shots and winning some games,” Osgood said. “The game’s a lot faster at this level and there are always going to be better players. There is going to be adversity at this level.”

Austin head coach Jamaal Gibson didn’t like how Winona was able to hang around in the late minutes, but he does like the progress his team has made. He said watching the tape of his team from the first game compared to how they’re playing now is like night and day.

“That’s three games in a row where we let them back in, but at the same time, we’re 13 games into the season and now we’ve got 13 games experience,” Gibson said. “We’re still learning and  even as a coaching staff we’re still learning. We’re babies in this and we’re just trying to get better every day.”

Winona jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game, but the Packers (5-8 overall) answered with a 9-2 run and they never trailed again. Sophomore J’Dan Stevens gave Austin an early boost as he hit a three to bring them within 7-5 and he added another three to put Austin up 17-10.

“I started the year off on JV and I worked my way up to varsity,” Stevens said. “Now I’m getting quality time and it’s going good. We’re getting on a role and I feel like the more we get into the season, we’ll get better.”

Gibson said Stevens has grown into a solid role for the team.

“The first time we brought him, we had a sick player in our varsity lineup and J’Dan gave us extra opportunities by crashing the boards and he really pressures the ball,” Gibson said. “When he did that, we decided to start playing him a little bit more. Between him and Banyaan (Omot), they are two of the reasons why we are starting to play better basketball at both ends of the floor.”

Peyton Ransom had 17 points, four rebounds and six assists for the Packers, Dakota Retterath had eight points, four rebounds and three assists.

Jackson Harvey poured in 33 points to lead Winona (2-11 overall).

Winona 25  33  –  58

Austin 39  30  –  69

Austin scoring: Isaac Osgood, 18; Peyton Ransom, 17; J’Dan Stevens, 11; Cole Hebrink, 9; Dakota Retterath, 8; Jackson Clausman, 4; Banyaan Omot, 3