Updated: 03/13/2014 3:15 PM
Created: 03/12/2014 8:07 PM KSTP.com
By: KSTP Sports
No. 2 Austin (27-3) advanced to the MSHSL Class 3A Semifinals with a 61-50 victory over Alexandria (15-12) on Wednesday afternoon at Williams Arena.
The Packers went into a closely contested first half with an eight point lead at the break, 29-21.
It was early in the second half when Austin seemingly pulled away, scoring the first eight points in the opening two minutes of play to take a commanding 37-21 lead.
But Alexandria came roaring back with a 17-2 run and suddenly trailed by only a point, 41-40, with nine minutes remaining.
After the teams traded baskets, Austin stepped back on the gas with a six point spurt to reclaim a seven point advantage, 49-42, with under five minutes to go.
From there, free throw execution became key as Austin made 12 of 14 from the line in the final three minutes while Alexandria made 6 of 10 at the line in the last four minutes.
For the game, Austin shot 18-22 at the stripe while Alexandria finished 15-20.
Austin was led by senior guard Zach Wessels with 23 points on 9-15 shooting while senior Ajuda Nywesh added 15 points including three 3-pointers.
Alexandria was led by senior John Vogeler's 13 points, adding six rebounds and three 3-pointers. Junior Joe Gorghuber had a game-high nine rebounds, adding seven points and two blocked shots.
Austin held Alexandria to 30.6% (15-49) shooting for the game.
The Packers will play Holy Family in the Class AAA Semifinals on Thursday at Target Center.
(Material from the Minnesota State High School League was used in this report.)