AUSTIN, Minn. - The Austin Packers girl's basketball team fought tooth and nail to get back to the state tournament for the second time in three seasons.
"We have one senior this year and her one word is grit and I think that really defines a lot of what these girls have shown over the course of the year," Head Coach Eric Zoske said.
After bowing out in the first round in 2019 to Robbinsdale Cooper, they're hoping for a longer stay in the tourney this time around.
"The first year we were there, we were pretty satisfied with just getting there but this year we're hoping to get a few more wins and do some damage," junior Hope Dudycha said.
"It was fun going the first time and getting to go again is a great opportunity," junior Emma Dudycha said.
Austin lost nearly 30 percent of its regular season games due to Covid-19. Zoske said he's proud of the way his team fought throughout the year.
"Through all the uncertainty, all the adjusting. It's a great pleasure to coach a group like this that can battle of the uncertainties and the changes and then show great success at the end of the year," he said.
Armed with the Dudycha twins, the Packers have only one senior on the roster, Elyse Hebrink. Her leadership as well as former Packers is what Zoske said helped pave the way for this group.
"We've had this success because we've had a strong senior class the last couple of years," he said. "This year we only have one senior but she's one of the best we've had since I've been here."
This year's state tournament will look a little different. Austin won't play their first round matchup at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, but at Mayo High School.
Hope and Emma said it will feel different without a roaring crowd, but it won't change their focus.
"It's a big game so it's a little more special than a regular game," Emma said.
"It's not like any big setting we were hoping to be in but still making it to the state tournament and getting the opportunity to play some of the state's best, we just have to realize that's what we're doing," Hope said.
Austin will face top-seeded Hill-Murray Wednesday at 7 p.m.