The Austin Packers girls basketball team renewed their I-90 rivalary with the Albert Lea Tigers in a Big 9 Conference matchup in Albert Lea Monday evening, and veteran forward Olivia Walsh poured in 23 points, and the Packers opened the second half on a 16-0 run to blow the game wide open on their way to a 73-49 win.
Austin jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Albert Lea anwered with a 9-2 run to take a 9-7 advantage, but it would prove to be their last lead of the night as the Packers answered back with a 9-2 run of their own to take a lead they would not relinquish at 18-11. Walsh then helped to key a 21-5 Austin run by continually driving to the basket for layups or taking trips to the foul line, where she was 5 for 6 for the half. Walsh, who scored 17 of her 23 points in the first half also came up with two steals and layups at the other end of the floor as the Packers forced 10 Tiger turnovers total in the half and led 35-20 at the halftime break.
Austin came bolting out of the gate at the start of the second half, as two 3-pointers from sophomore guard Marissa Shute and another from 8th grade guard Quinn Osgood helped to key a 16-0 Packer run to crack the game wide open at 51-20. The opening flurry for Austin did not end until Kendall Kenis, the all-time leader for 3-point field goals made in Albert Lea girls basketball history swished one of her five 3-pointers for the game with just over 4 minutes gone in the second half to make the score 51-23, but the Packers were able to increase their lead to as large as 33 points, and they kept the lead at over 20 points the rest of the way for the win.
Eleven other Packers broke into the scoring column besides Walsh Monday night, as both Ajiem Agwa and Cassidy Shute tallied nine points apiece, Quinn Osgood wound up with two 3-pointers on her way to eight points, Marissa Shute chipped in six points with her two second half 3-pointers, Nyabol Mourwal scored four points Monday night, Nora Sand and Atee Obang each tallied three points, and Mackenzie Brede, Chloe Cannon, Marie Tolbert and Isabella Wiedeman all scored two points apiece in the win Monday evening.
Austin is now 12-6 overall on the season and 11-3 in the Big 9 Conference, and the Packers will face a tough test Thursday night when Red Wing comes to Ove Berven Gym, with the varsity tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.