Alexandria jumps into preparing for Austin
The Alexandria boys’ basketball team found out that its first round opponent would be a 26-3 Austin team on Saturday and coaches set out to learn as much as they could about the Packers before Wednesday’s opener at 2 p.m.
Austin will enter today’s game on a 16-game winning streak after cruising through the Section 1AAA tournament with three wins by at least 15 points. The Packers were ranked fourth in the final Minnesota Basketball News polls and are making their third straight state tournament appearance after finishing as the runner-up in AAA last season.
“Austin is a nice basketball team,” Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt said. “They have a solid core of perimeter players that really make them go offensively, and they play an extended 1-2-2 zone pretty much exclusively on the defensive end.”
The Packers have three players who average double figures. Senior Ajuda Nywesh leads that group at 14.2 points per game. Senior guards Bret Lukes and Zach Wessels are right behind him, averaging 14.1 and 13.1, respectively.
“Every team in the state tournament is very good and Austin is no exception,” Witt said. “We feel like we match up pretty well with their perimeter players, but we’ll certainly need good focus and execution of our game plan in order to contain them and what they like to do.”
The Cardinals are coming off one of their best games of the season in a win over Fergus Falls in the section title game. They hope to carry that into the state tournament as they take a 15-11 record in to Minneapolis. The winner of this game will face the winner of Cloquet (24-4) and Holy Family Catholic (27-2) at 2 p.m. at the Target Center on Thursday.
“We need to defend and rebound the basketball,” Witt said of keys to coming out with a win in the first round. “Another major key will be attacking their 1-2-2 zone and being aggressive with our opportunities. They are very good in that zone, so good ball movement and decision making will be critical.”