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Posted On: 12/29/17 8:31 AM
The Austin Packers put everyone from Class AAA on notice last night when they took out a quality Forest Lake team at the Lakeville North tournament. NHR was on hand to give you “Five Takeaways” from the game.
One. That Packer Pressure. As we saw when the Packers played Totino-Grace at the Tip Off Classic, the Austin zone trapping pressure may not get you right away, but it will eventually. Forest Lake took an early double figure lead and had a lot of confidence in what they were doing. Then, two defenders in the face of the guy on the ball and length all over the court in passing lanes began to frustrate. At this point turnovers came in bunches. Forest Lake was able to withstand the first wave of the Austin zone Hunter Damon was able to shoot his team out of problems. However, that was a temporary fix as the Austin traps and length in passing lanes blew the game open in half two at one point building the lead to 18 points.
Two. Duoth Explodes. Duoth Gach had trouble knocking down shots hitting only one three-pointer in the first half and not giving his team all that much. Everything changed in the second half when the explosive length of Gach hit two threes as a part of his own 10-0 run. Gach made corner jumpers and slashed his way off the ball to 19 second half points and 22 for the game. He was also too fast and too quick to the rim for Forest Lake to do anything with in transition. Gach will likely be a division one junior college talent with the potential to grow while at that juco program. Last night Gach was offered by Mississippi Gulf Coast after the game. This is a player you could see continue to blossom and get a D2 or D1 scholarship after that junior college seasoning. Duoth has the talent to entertain D2 looks right now.
Three. State Chances? However Austin fares tonight against Lakeville North, we believe that the Packers have as good of a chance to play in the Class AAA state title game as anybody else. Can they win it? We will get there in a second. The thing many overlooked with the Packers when Both Gach left for prep school was that Austin is a team with many seniors. Duoth is the leading scorer while Tate Hebrink is quite simply the leader at PG in many ways. Hebrink had 14 last night while much improved forward Moses Issa scored 11 hitting a three and grabbing seven boards as well. Add in the crafty low post play of Nyahoa Obany and the physical dirty work of Logan Braaten and you have a senior group that can play with most. The depth comes from the junior and sophomore classes (guys like Dongrin Dang and Agwa Nywesh) and I think Austin has as good of chance to play in the state title game facing DeLaSalle or Orono as any other team. Northfield is looking like a very tough section opponent though so that, and the Big Nine race, is Austin’s first priority. Rest assured Minnesota, Austin is a state contender.
Four. The Shooter. Five-foot-ten junior guard Hunter Damon made Austin’s scrambling defense pay when they weren’t able to recover by hitting seven threes in the cracks of the zone trap. Hunter had five threes in the first half and seven overall for his 21 points in the game. Damon is having a strong year shooting the ball averaging over 13 points a game so the SEC and Section 7AAAA better prepare for him in their game plan.
Five. Forest Lake will be just fine. Forest Lake’s guards weren’t able to deal with the Austin zone pressure but the loss only dropped them to 6-2 on the season. It was an off night for Manny Jingco who is scoring 20 plus a game but wasn’t able to get into space against the zone nor was junior standout wing John Schrader (who also missed double figures). Jingco and Schrader should recover just fine plus it was a good sign for the Rangers that Cooper Berg had a strong game against a good Austin team (11/6) around the basket. The Rangers still have the best chance in 7AAAA as they showed in hammering Cambridge by 26 a week ago.