The Austin Packers boys’ basketball team was looking for win number three in a row Friday night at Packer Gym against the Winona Winhawks in a Big 9 Conference and Section 1AAA matchup, as both teams were looking to improve their standing in the section with the playoffs on the near horizon. In a hard-fought battle, Gage Manahan tallied a season-high 25 points, plus he added seven steals, five assists and three rebounds as the Packers, who were forced to play overtime for a second straight game outscored the Winhawks 12-5 in the extra session to win 83-76.
Austin wound up leading the game from start to finish as they led by as many as 13 in the first half, and leading 28-17, the Winhawks went on a 12-4 run to cut the Packer lead to 32-29. Austin led by six at the half at 37-31, and after seeing Winona open the second half on a 10-5 run, the Packer lead was cut to one at 42-41. After leading by one again at 47-46, the Packers went on a 9-1 run to open up a 56-47 lead. Winona would not go quietly, however, as they trimmed the lead back to three at 58-55, only to see Austin reel off a 7-0 run to take a 10-point lead late in the half at 65-55. Again, the Winhakws had an answer as they reeled off the next seven points in a row to cut the lead back to three at 65-62, and from there, a back-and-forth tussle ensued between the two teams as two free throws from Manahan gave Austin a 71-68 lead with under :30 second left. Winona had one more chance to tie the game and send it to OT, and guard Bryan Casselillus did just that as he swished a 3-pointer from the right win with :04 seconds left to tie the game at 71. Both teams were held to just one field goal in overtime, but the Packers went 10-14 from the line in the extra session to ultimately pull away, while the Winhakws were only 3-4.
Besides Manahan’s huge night, Buai Duop added 13 points, Kaden Murley tallied 12 points, plus he led the Packers in rebounds with six and assists with seven, Ater Manyuoun provided 12 points off the Austin bench as another key stat in the win for Austin was bench scoring, as the Packers reserves outscored Winona’s 28-1 for the contest. Victor Idris scored nine points for the Packers Friday night, while Jack Lang added five points, Cham Okey chipped in four points and Jared Lillemon drilled a 3-pointer for three points for the Packers, who piled up 15 steals in the game to three for Winona, and they also blocked four shots to none for the Winhawks. Austin also forced 18 turnovers and came out on top despite being outrebounded 42-23 for the game.
With the win, Austin is now 11-7 in the Big 9 and 12-10 overall. The Packers swing back into action on Tuesday night in Rochester versus the Mayo Spartans, with varsity tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.