2 TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE
Austin’s Ajuda Nywesh shoots over Red Wing's Ty Buck in the second half of the Section 1AAA championship Friday night at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Herald file photo
AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 3
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By Rocky [email protected]
The Packers hope to get out andrun when they take on The BlakeSchool in the Class ‘AAA’ state
boys basketball quarterfinals atWilliams Arena 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Austin, 28-0 and seeded No. 2 inthe state tournament, is coming off a52-43 overtime win over Red Wingand a 51-49 win over Winona.
Austin’s defense has been strongthroughout the postseason, but thePackers would like to get their offensegoing.
“We forced 20 turnovers per gamethis year, and the last couple of gameswe’re not getting them,” Austin headcoach Kris Fadness said. “We’ve got tofind a way to create more turnoversbecause we thrive off that. I want usto jack up the pressure a little morethan what it’s been.”
The Blake School Bears (22-7 over-all) have four standout players: a pair
of 6-foot-7-inch post players, a 6-3senior guard who has played varsityball since he was a seventh-grader,and John Veil, a junior captain whoplayed AAU basketball with Austin’sZach Wessels last summer.
Wessels knows Veil well, but he’snot about to be friendly on the courtwith his former teammate.
“We’re really good friends now. Wespent three or four months together,and he’s a pretty good player,” Wes-sels said. “It’ll be fun to play againsthim.”
The Packers won’t be playing inWilliams Arena for the first time, as allfive of their starters played there lastyear, and the team attended camp inthe arena over the summer.
Austin senior Joe Aase said thePackers need to pick up the tempofrom the last two games.
“We’ve kind of played down to ouropponents’ pace,” he said. “We wantto get out and run and play the stylewe’ve played most of the year. We’re
definitely capable of doing it. We thinkwe’re the better team, so we’re goingto go in there and play our game andsee what we can do.”
Fadness wants to see his team getback into scoring in the 60s or 70safter they were held to less than 55points in their last two contests. Healso expects another fight to the fin-ish.
“You just assume it’ll come down towho makes the plays in the last threeminutes of the game,” Fadness said. “Ithink it’s going to be a close game.”
Wessels said he’s feeling somenerves, but he doesn’t view that as abad thing when the stakes are as highas they will be this week.
“I get nervous all of the time, butnerves are a good thing; and I thinkwe’re gonna be fine,” Wessels said.
If Austin wins Wednesday, it willplay the winner of No. 3 Marshall (27-2 overall) and Grand Rapids (20-9overall) 2 p.m. Thursday at the TargetCenter.
Pack looking to put up points
Austin’s Joe Aase battles underneath against Red Wing inthe first half of the Section 1AAA championship Fridaynight at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
Austin’s defense has been solid, but team is looking to score
4 TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE
By Rocky [email protected]
When Austin seniorTommy Olmstedstopped shaving in
November, it was simply toprove he could grow a lot offacial hair.
Four months later,Olmsted’s beard is officiallyout of control. He could passfor a Civil War soldier, anAmish farmhand or possiblyeven could be mistaken for amountain man.
But one thing’s for sure:Olmsted wouldn’t have it anyother way. The beard is a signof how many games in a rowthe Austin boys basketballteam has won. About halfway
through the season,Olmsted’s teammatesrequested that he not shaveuntil the team lost, and heobliged.
“It gets uncomfortable attimes and it gets a little itchy,”Olmsted said. “ I’d gladly goundefeated and still have abeard.”
Austin senior forward JoeAase said Olmsted didn’t havemuch of choice about shavingafter his beard grew a decentlength during no-shaveNovember — or ‘Movember’— a month in which AHSstudents and men across theworld grow facial hair to raiseawareness for prostate cancer.
Austin’s Tommy Olmsted watches the ball go out of bounds during the first half against Owatona earlier this year in PackerGym.
‘Movember’ beardstill going strongSenior Tommy Olmsted notshaving until Packers lose
Continued on Page 5
AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 5
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The Packers agreed that Olmstedshould wait until they lose before heshaved, and that first loss still hasn’tcome for undefeated Austin (28-0overall).
“I don’t think he really saw it coming,but he’s been a good sport about it, andhe hasn’t tried to back down from it,”Aase said. “I don’t think it’s the ideallook.”
Olmsted, who gets recognized aroundtown as “that kid on the basketball teamwith the beard,” has taken plenty of jabsfrom his teammates, but it’s all in goodfun. He also looks forward to hearingwhat opposing crowds will say to him ongame night.
“I try to listen for the most creativedis people can come up with,” Olmstedsaid. “At [Rochester] Century, some guyyelled out ‘I forgot we were playing theShire’ [from The Lord of the Rings].”
Austin head coach Kris Fadness saidthe beard has become a good luckcharm. He also said Olmsted has handledwell having his minutes reduced in the
last two games after being a rotation guyduring the regular season.
“He’s been supportive, and he’s reallybeen a leader for us on the bench byyelling things out and getting otherbench guys involved,” Fadness said. “I’mreally proud of him for taking that onwhen it would be real easy for him topout and sulk over his playing time. He’sa high-character kid.”
No matter what the Packers do at thestate tournament, Olmsted will be beardfree by this time next week. He’s goingto shave it at one of his friend’s house,and it will be a celebration to remember.
Olmsted just hopes he’s shaving it forthe season being over, but not thewinning streak being over.
“After Saturday night, I want to shaveit because we win, not because we lost,”he said. “I think the last game there wasa lot of pressure on us because peoplewere expecting us to make a run atstate. Now that we’re there, we’re goingto start going back to our basketball thatgot us here.”
Austin’s Tommy Olmsted charges in for a layup against New Prague in the first earlier thisseason in Packer Gym.
“After Saturday night, I want to shave itbecause we win, not because we lost.”
6 TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE
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Well before the season started, thePacker boys basketball team was prettyclear about its main goal. The teamwanted to win a state title. And after anundefeated season that almost came to anend in the last two playoff rounds, thePackers are in a position to do just that.
If Austin can win three games in fourdays, its mission will be complete. If not,they can look back at this season as one ofthe finest in school history.
To go 28 games without a loss in any-thing is amazing, especially in basketball.The winter season is the longest highschool sports season, and there are boundto be nights when players just aren’t thatpumped up, or maybe they’re focused onsomething else. There are going to be dis-tractions.
To be able to keep pumping out wins— especially when everyone in the BigNine wanted to make a name for them-selves by knocking off the second-rankedPackers — is something to be proud of.
The Packers haven’t shot as well in thepostseason as they did earlier in the sea-son, yet they’ve found ways to win thelast two games. More important, it hasn’tjust been one guy making the key plays towin.
Ajuda Nywesh hit a layup to win theWinona game, and he had the go-aheadscore in the Red Wing game, Joe Aase hashit some huge 3-pointers, Zach Wessels
has had plenty of momentum-changingdrives and scores, Collin Weisert has hitkey 3-pointers in both wins, and Tom Aasehas been a monster on the defensive sideof the floor.
The more people you have makingplays, the higher your chances of winningare. Austin struggled in its last two games,but sometimes you need to struggle toget better.
Coaches always say that you learnmore from losing than you do from win-ning. It’s now too late for the Packers tolearn from a loss as it would end their sea-son, but a close win can be just as inform-ative.
I don’t think the Packers played thatbad against Red Wing; they just ran into avery big and physical team, and thereweren’t a lot of whistles blowing. It wasvery similar to the game Austin lost atOwatonna last year, when the Huskiesturned the contest into more of a footballcontest than a basketball game.
Packers mustretain focus
Austin Daily Herald
Austin’s Joe Aase gets two in front of Winona’s Daniel Schwartz in the first half of the Section1AAA semifinal game in Packer Gym. Continued on Page 7
AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 7
The difference between last year’s team and this year’s isAustin eventually faded away and lost to Owatonna after hold-ing a sizeable lead. But on Friday, the Packers saw their sizeablelead completely disappear, and they still had the confidence toget back in it and walk away with a win.
If you were at the game, you noticed that Austin didn’t cele-brate after winning even though they had just qualified for statein an overtime contest.
This team has been focused on the state tournament all sea-son long and hopefully it brings out the best in them, becausethe margin for error is about to get a lot smaller.
Before Austin lost to St. Paul Johnson last year in the statequarterfinals, it hung with the Governors for most of the game.There was even a couple moments where Austin looked like itwas moving on.
Then fatigue set in, and inexperience took over.The stage was big, the lights were bright and the Packers just
weren’t quite up to it. But all five of Austin’s starters played inthat game last year, and they don’t want to endure the same re-sult.
To avoid that, the Packers will have to relax and play thegame they love. They can’t worry about what De LaSalle — whois the hands-down favorite in Class ‘AAA’ — is doing on theother side of the bracket.
They just need to relax, smile and play a game of basketball.Getting nervous or scared never won anybody anything, espe-cially in sports.
If the Packers can find a way to play on offense like they didin the 80-77 win over Rochester John Marshall in December, andplay defense like in the Section 1AAA tournament — where thePackers allowed just 42.3 points per game — they’ll be in goodshape.
The question is, can they do that?We’ll find out this week.
Austin’s Gach Gach shoots from the corner during the second half against Rochester Century earlier this season in PackerGym.
8 TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE
Austin Packers 2012-13regular season statistics
No. Name PPG REB AST STL BLK TO21 J. Aase 17.7 6.5 1.7 1.3 1.2 1.412 Z. Wessels 15.1 3.7 4.6 3.2 0.1 2.724 T. Aase 11.0 5.6 2.9 2.1 2.5 2.110 B. Lukes 8.6 2.0 2.0 1.9 0.1 0.94 A. Nywesh 7.6 2.8 1.3 2.1 0.1 1.63 C. Weisert 3.8 2.7 1.7 1.6 0.1 0.935 G. Gach 2.4 1.2 0.6 0.4 0.1 0.611 T. Olmsted 1.2 0.8 0.8 0.4 0.0 0.625 N. Gasner 1.3 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.133 C. Oberbroeckling 0.9 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.0 0.122 J. Kempen 0.4 0.7 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.120 Z. Coffey 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.0 0.413 B. Bumgarner 0.8 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.0 0.45 R. Synoground 0.3 0.0 0.2 0.3 0.0 0.030 N. Brehmer 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.415 A. Bergstrom 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Totals 69.3 28.3 16.1 13.5 4.3 11.3Opponents 47.6 27.9 8.8 5.8 1.1 20.4
— Source: Austin Packers
ABOVE: Austin guard Zach Wessels gets a layup Friday night in the first half of the Section1AAA Tournament championship against Red Wing at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.RIGHT: Austin’s Gach Gach is fouled by Mankato East’s Jordan Grams during the first half gamein Packer Gym.
AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 9
#1 De LaSalle (27-1)(H)
Sartell-Saint Stephens (17-12)
3/20/2013 @ 10 a.m. • Williams Arena, U of MN
#4 Delano (26-3)(H)
#5 Saint Paul Johnson (21-7)
3/20/2013 @ noon •Williams Arena, U of MN
#2 Austin (28-0)(H)
Blake School (The) (22-7)
3/20/2013 @ 2 p.m. • Williams Arena, U of MN
#3 Marshall (27-2)(H)
Grand Rapids (20-9)
3/20/2013 @ 4 p.m. • Williams Arena, U of MN
3/21/2013 @ noonTarget Center, Minneapolis
3/21/2013 @ 2 p.m.Target Center, Minneapolis
3/23/2013 @ 6 p.m.Target Center, Minneapolis
Loser Semifinal 2 (H)
Loser Semifinal 1
3/23/2013 @ 2 p.m. • Condordia University, St. Paul
THIRD PLACE WINNER
2013 State Class AAABoys BasketballTournament
AUSTIN PACKERS (28-0)QRF Ranking: No. 1Points per game: 69.3Points allowed per game: 47.7Road to state: Austin 71,Kasson-Mantorville 35; Austin 51,Winona 49; Austin 52, Red Wing43 (OT)
MARSHALL TIGERS (27-2)QRF Ranking: No. 10Points per game: 68.6Points allowed per game: 48.7Road to state: Marshall 71, NewUlm 34; Marshall 66, MankatoWest 61; Marshall 56, Waconia 48
DE LASALLE ISLANDERS(26-1)QRF Ranking: No. 2Points per game: 80.6Points allowed per game: 49.5Road to state: DeLaSalle 91,St. Paul Como Park 47;DeLaSalle 80, Fridley 42;DeLaSalle 71, Spring LakePark 61
ST. PAUL JOHNSONGOVERNORS (21-7)QRF Ranking: No. 6Points per game: 81.0Points allowed per game: 61.1
Road to state: St. Paul Johnson71, South Saint Paul 30; St. PaulJohnson 76, St. Thomas Academy48; St. Paul Johnson 58, St. PaulCentral 46
THE BLAKE SCHOOLBEARS (22-7)QRF Ranking: No. 13Points per game: 67.7Points allowed per game: 56.3Road to state: The Blake School77, Benilde-St. Margaretʼs 62; TheBlake School 79, Richfield 73, OT;The Blake School 47, Holy FamilyCatholic 41
GRAND RAPIDSTHUNDERHAWKS (20-9)QRF Ranking: No. 14Points per game: 68.4Points allowed per game: 52.5Road to state: Grand Rapids 74,North Branch 68, OT; GrandRapids 59, Chisago Lakes Area57, OT; Grand Rapids 64, Cloquet58
SARTELL-ST. STEPHENSSABRES (17-12)QRF Ranking: No. 18Points per game: 58.5Points allowed per game: 55.9
Road to state: Sartell-St.Stephens 74, Sauk Rapids-Rice41; Startell-Stephens 50, ThiefRiver Falls 46; Sartell-St.Stephens 57, Fergus Falls 55
DELANO TIGERS (26-3)QRF Ranking: No. 7Points per game: 71.4Points allowed per game: 52.3Road to state: Delano 96, Becker45; Delano 61, Orono 46; Delano66, St. Cloud Apollo 56*QRF rankings from minnesota-scores.net,and are based on quality of opponents andscores throughout the season.
A look at the Austin Packers and their competitors
10 TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE
Packers 2012-13 schedule/resultsDATE OPPONENT SCORE W/L (RECORD)Dec. 1 Kasson-Mantorville 88 - 54 W (1-0, 0-0)Dec. 8 Edina 66 - 62 W (2-0, 0-0)Dec. 11 Albert Lea 72 - 71 (2OT) W (3-0, 1-0)Dec. 14 Rochester Mayo 68 - 34 W (4-0, 2-0)Dec. 18 Mankato East 72 - 36 W (5-0, 3-0)Dec. 21 Red Wing 64 - 52 W (6-0, 3-0)Dec. 28 New Prague 86 - 58 W (7-0, 3-0)Dec. 29 Eastview 68 - 63 W (8-0, 3-0)Jan. 4 Mankato West 56 - 45 W (9-0, 4-0)Jan. 5 Waseca 70 - 54 W (10-0, 4-0)Jan. 8 Faribault 80 - 44 W (11-0, 5-0)Jan. 11 Rochester Century 74 - 24 W (12-0, 6-0)Jan. 15 Winona 63 - 38 W (13-0, 7-0)Jan. 17 Rochester JM 80 - 77 W (14-0, 8-0)Jan. 19 Westby 71 - 48 W (15-0, 8-0)Jan. 22 Mankato East 75 - 53 W (16-0, 9-0)Jan. 25 Owatonna 67 - 46 W (17-0, 10-0)Feb. 1 Rochester Mayo 64 - 39 W (18-0, 11-0)Feb. 8 Mankato West 83 - 41 W (19-0, 12-0)Feb. 9 Albert Lea 80 - 53 W (20-0, 13-0)Feb. 12 Faribault 78 - 31 W (21-0, 14-0)Feb. 15 Rochester Century 53 - 38 W (22-0, 15-0)Feb. 19 Winona 61 - 53 W (23-0, 16-0)Feb. 23 Rochester JM 66 - 47 W (24-0, 17-0)March 1 Owatonna 60 - 48 W (25-0, 18-0)
Section 1AAA boys basketball tournamentMarch 6 Kasson-Mantorville 71 - 35 W (26-0, 18-0)March 9 Winona 51 - 49 W (27-0, 18-0)March 15 Red Wing 52 - 43 (OT) W (28-0, 18-0)
Source: mshsl.orgAustin’s Zach Wessels reaches for a rebound with Mankato East’s Brandon Adema during the first half earlier this seasonin Packer Gym.
AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 11
By Rocky [email protected]
Corey Christopherson has come full circle.The 2002 Austin grad spent his high
school days playing basketball under headcoach Kris Fadness, and now he’s one of thetop assistant coaches in Fadness’ program.
The transition has been a smooth one forChristopherson, and Fadness is glad to havehim on the staff.
“When there was a chance to get himback in the district, it was nice to get himlocked in,” Fadness said. “I know he’s justwaiting for me to hang up my cleats, but un-fortunately I don’t know what the heck Iwould do with my life when I do that. I don’tknow when that will happen.”
Christopherson, who has been an assis-tant coach with the Packers for six years,played point guard for a Packers team thatfinished third in a loaded Big Nine Confer-ence in 2002. Rochester John Marshall had
two future Division I college players on itsteam, but the Packers still had a solid year asFadness said they were“three shots from a con-ference title.”
Christopherson wenton to play at RochesterCommunity and Techni-cal College for two years,and when he transferredto Winona State, he tookon coaching with St.Mary’s University as an as-sistant coach. Christo-pherson coached at St.Mary’s for three years be-fore coming back toAustin, where he has en-joyed all of his time.
“I love where I’m atright now at the elemen-tary school, and coaching at the high school,”Christopherson said. “It’s been great.”
Christopherson helped coach the Austinjunior varsity team that went 17-7 overall this
season, and Fadness saidthe two are always on thesame page, so he doesn’tinterfere with the JV.
Christopherson recallscoaching Joe Aase andTom Aase when they werefreshmen.
“We were going towork everything throughTom and that lasted 10games. Then we had tomove him up to varsity,”Christopherson said. “Joeput up huge numbers forus, and Zach Wessels andBret Lukes were runningthrough the Big Nine ineighth grade, so we knew
when you matched those groups, you weregoing to have something special.”
Austin junior guard Ajuda Nywesh put in alot of time on the JV last season, and he saidChristopherson is a solid coach.
“He’s a good coach and he tells you whatyou’ve got to do to win,” Nywesh said. “Hedefinitely knows what he’s doing.”
Christopherson, who would like to be ahead coach someday, has soaked up a lot ofknowledge from Fadness.
“Coach Fadness is one of the best coachesaround,” Christopherson said. “You knowthat when you play for him, and you know itmore when you coach with him. I’ve learneda ton, from scouting to preparation, to skilldevelopment. He knows as much as anyoneI’ve been around.”
Christopherson is excited the Packers areplaying in their second straight state tourna-ment after a 30-year drought, and he alsolikes what the future holds for the program.
“What’s really exciting is we’ve got talentdown the line still,” he said. “There are someteams coming up that’ll be good.”
From player to assistant coach2002 AHS grad returns in new role with Packer basketball team
“When therewas a chance toget him back inthe district, it
was nice to gethim locked in.”
-Kris Fadness onCorey Christopherson
Dec. 8: Austin 66,Edina 62
Austin showed itmeant business in just itssecond game of the sea-son, as it took downEdina, which featuredGraham Woodward, apoint guard who hascommitted to Penn StateUniversity.
The Packers shot lightsout as they hit 45 percent(9-for-20) of their 3-pointers, and Joe Aase ledthe way with 27 points.
Edina qualified for theClass ‘AAAA’ state tourna-ment and is seeded No. 3.
Dec. 11: Austin 72,Albert Lea 71(2OT)
Austin junior Zach Wes-sels showed how clutch hecan be as he kept Austin’slong winning streakagainst Albert Lea alive bydrilling a 15-foot jumpshot with 1.5 seconds leftto give the Packers a winagainst their rivals.
The Packers beat ALlater in the year to pushtheir winning streak to 14games over the Tigers.
Jan. 17: Austin 80,Rochester JM 77
Austin played its best
game of the season whenthe up-and-coming Rock-ets came to town on amission to take first placein the Big Nine.
In front of a packedhouse in Packer gym, JoeAase netted a career-high34 points and went 8-for-11 on 3-pointers, andZach Wessels finishedwith 23 points and 8 as-sists.
Austin led by as manyas 19 points in the firsthalf.
March 9: Austin51, Winona 49(Section 1AAAsemifinal)
It was a worst-casescenario for the Packers— Austin came out flat
and Winona was scrappy.The Winhawks led by
11 in the first half, whichwas Austin’s biggesthome deficit in two yearsand its biggest totaldeficit this season. Butthe Packers had an an-swer.
Austin used a 14-2 runto get back in the game,and Joe Aase and ZachWessels made the twobiggest plays of the sea-son to close out the win.
Aase, who scored 22points, drilled a contested3-pointer to tie the gameat 49. Then, on Austin’sfinal possession, Wesselstipped a loose ball toAjuda Nywesh for a lay-up to put the Packersahead for good with fourseconds left.
March 15: Austin 52,Red Wing 43 (OT)(Section 1AAA final)
The Packers bent, butthey didn’t break.
Austin led for most of thesecond half, but when itmissed two of three freethrows and committed oneturnover in the last twominutes, the Wingers wereable to tie the game with alate put-back to force over-time.
In the extra session, thePackers seized control as JoeAase hit an early 3-pointerand Ajuda Nywesh putAustin up for good with anup-and-under move thatmade it 45-43.
Zach Wessels had 19points in the win, and Aasehad 18.
12 TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 AUSTIN DAILY HERALD - THE ROAD TO STATE
Austin’s Tom Aase shoots a short jumper in the first half of theSection 1AAA championship Friday night at Mayo Civic Cen-ter in Rochester.
Games of the year