Trojans fall hard to No. 2 Austin

The New Prague Trojans were ranked No. 9 in Class AAA boys basketball, but they were no match for the No. 2 team, losing a key nonconference game to Section 1AAA rival Austin Friday, Dec. 28.

The two teams played evenly for the first 13 minutes of the game, but the talented Austin squad went on a run to end the first half with a 36-20 lead and kept going from there, opening with a big run to start the second half.

“Our defense played well in the first half, but they got back in the game at the free throw line, then in the second half we didn’t handle their trap as well, and that led to a number of early easy baskets,” Trojan coach Aaron Jasperson said.

On top of that, the Trojans were stopped making their shots. After shooting 58 percent in the first half, the Trojans went just 9 of 26 in the second half for a 44 percent clip overall.

“Our man-to-man defense isn’t quite where it needs to be to beat a very talented team that can contend for a state title,” Jasperson said. He noted that Austin has two Division 1-recruits in senior Joe Aase and junior Zach Wessels, and a Division 2 player in Tom Aase.

“They are very good, and we learned what it will take to beat them if we get the chance in section play,” Jasperson concluded.

The Packers had three players top the 20-point mark, with Joe Aase getting 24 and Wessels and Bret Lukes each getting 21.

The Trojans were led by Luke Rynda, who had 19 points, while Paul Friendshuh had 14 and Nick Johnson 11. Other Trojans scoring were Joe Kneip, Kyle Stepka, Kyle Zweber and Michael Soderlund each with three and Greg Vogel with two.

Friendshuh led the Trojans on the boards with six. He and Stepka each had a teamhigh four assists.

New Prague (6-3) faces another Big 9/Section 1AAA foe on Saturday, Jan. 5, when Winona visits New Prague. New Prague begins Missota Conference play Friday, Jan. 11, at home against defending conference champion Chanhassen.