The Austin Packers girls’ basketball team, the No. 7 team in the state in the last Class AAA poll locked horns with defending Class AAA champion Becker, the No. 1 team in the state in the last poll in the State Class AAA quarterfinals Wednesday morning at Maturi Pavillion at the University of Minnesota, and although the Packers gave the Bulldogs all they could handle and then some, a 48-41 Packer lead with just over 3:30 to go dissapated down the strech as Becker closed the game on a 12-0 run to win 53-48.
The Bulldogs, who had launched 723 3-point field goals coming into the game and had drained 289 of them started the game with a 3-pointer from guard Adeline Kent, who would come back to haunt Austin later in the game to put Becker in front 3-0. The Packers, though, showed they had come to play as a layup from junior guard Cassidy Shute, a 3-pointer from senior guard Hope Dudycha, a layup from junior guard/forward Olivia Walsh and a 3-pointer from Walsh soon afterward capped off a 10-0 Austin run to give the Packers what would turn out to be their biggest lead of the game of seven points at 10-3. A layup from Hope Dudycha off of a Becker turnover later gave Austin a 14-7 lead, but the Bulldogs countered with a 13-0 run of their own to take what would be their biggest lead of the game of six points at 20-14. Austin, though, came back to outscore Becker 6-2 for the rest of the half to trail 22-20 at halftime.
The two teams then came out and battled back and forth throughout the second half as the lead changed hands several times, but Austin started to gain the upper hand when senior guard Emma Dudycha drained a 3-pointer, one of three she would convert in the half to give the Packers a 40-39 lead with 8:26 to go. Austin continued to gain the momentum as a running hook shot by Hope Dudycha in the lane off of a Becker turnover, a free throw from senior forward Reana Schmitt, a layup from Dudycha and a layup from Walsh gave Austin a 47-41 lead with 5:03 left, and a free throw from Schmitt with 3:31 to go capped an 11-2 Packer run to give Austin a 48-41 lead and momentum heading down the stretch. Becker, though, wasn’t going away as they came roaring back with back-to-back 3-pointers from guard Adeline Kent to cut Austin’s lead to 48-47 with 2:18 left. After two timeouts and two Bulldog fouls, a Packer turnover turned into a go-ahead layup from Becker guard Ayla Brown with :41 left for a 49-48 Bulldog lead. Becker’s aggressive one-on-one defense forced another Austin turnover with :22 seconds to go, and with the Packers fouling to try to put the Bulldogs in the bonus, a layup from guard Danielle Nuest with :10 left gave Becker a 51-48 lead. Nuest was fouled on the play, but after she missed the ensuing free throw, a huge offensive rebound from forward Alexis Rose gave the Bulldogs the ball back with :07 seconds left, and her two free throws clinched the 53-48 victory.
Austin was led in scoring by Hope Dudycha and Olivia Walsh, who each tallied 12 points, with Dudycha adding two rebounds and four assists and Walsh adding nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Emma Dudycha nailed three 3-pointers in the second half for nine points, Reana Schmitt tallied eight points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four blocked shots, and Cassidy Shute chipped in seven points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals.
With the loss, Austin is now 24-6 on the season, and they will play Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the Class AAA consolation semi-finals Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the Ganglehoff Center on the campus of Concordia/St. Paul. You’ll hear the game on AM 1480 KAUS, with the Austin Packers pre-game show on the air at 1:30 p.m., and tip-off at 2:00 p.m.