AUSTIN, Minn. - Two of the area’s best teams clashed in Thursday’s Section 1AAA championship game. For the first time this season, Byron and Austin battled it out with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
“I just try to go into it like it’s a normal game but I keep in the back of my mind that it’s not a normal game. I do that so that I don’t get anxious or nervous so I can just come in and do what I know I can do,” said Byron’s Ahjany Lee.
In a back-and-forth game that went to the final buzzer, Byron prevailed with a 52-50 over the Packers. This win gives the Bears a huge confidence boost heading into their first state tournament appearance since 2013.
“We’ve been playing well all season. We’ve got a really good group of guys and I feel like our momentum started before the season started,” Lee said. “It’s really helped us at times just knowing that we’ve got that chemistry.”
With the exception of the 2020 season when the Packers weren’t able to play the section championship due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, this loss marks the first time they will be absent from the state tournament since 2017. Still, there is a lot to be proud of in all that they have accomplished in such a strange season.
“Us five seniors, we’ve been together since fourth grade so getting to be together every day, especially when we had that break where it was really just us nine guys in the gym, bonding, getting closer together – that was special,” said Austin’s Teyghan Hovland.
“We had such a long time not being able to be in a group together but all of the coaches have just done a great job of pushing us toward the goal of state.”
Austin finished the season with a 17-3 record.