Minneota’s Taylor Reiss is known for her game-changing abilities, and she single-handedly insured her team a state title with her performance on Saturday at Target Center.
Reiss scored a game-high 30 points to propel Minneota to its first-ever Minnesota Class 1A state girls basketball title in a 61-51 victory over Ada-Borup (28-4). The win avenges the loss Minneota suffered to Ada-Borup in the 2012 state quarterfinals.
Minneota (30-2) outrebounded Ada-Borup 40-20, and its ability to double the Cougars’ number at the glass led to the Vikings’ ascent in the game’s final minutes. The lopsided rebounding numbers also allowed Minneota to score 20 second-chance points, compared to just four for Ada-Borup.
“We exposed the advantages we had by attacking inside and getting Taylor as many opportunities as possible,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. “Our rebounding gave us the win, and it’s what got us to this game in the first place.”
Reiss tallied 12 total rebounds, nine of them being offensive, as Ada-Borup’s posts had no chance at keeping the 5-foot-11 forward off the glass if she missed her initial shot.
After Minneota missed a bonus free throw with 1 minute, 38 seconds to play, Reiss slipped past a box-out effort to score with a putback layup. She then collected a defensive rebound, drew a foul and hit both bonus free-throw attempts to push the Vikings to a 52-47 lead they never lost.
“I’ve dreamed about winning this game ever since I was a little kid, and to be a big part of the win means so much,” Reiss said. “Once we started to play well inside, everything fell into place.”
Ada-Borup surged on a 12-3 run supported by scores from five separate players to construct a 27-21 lead with 3:07 left in the first half, but Minneota battled back to tighten the game to two points at the break 29-27.
The Vikings would continue their momentum after the break, using a 9-2 run to get a cushion they would need until Reiss stepped up.
“We talked at half about keeping Reiss off the glass, and we still were unable to. … She alone killed our chances of winning,” Ada-Borup coach Dave Smart said. “But I’m still proud of our girls. We’re able to say we made it to a game not many thought we could make it to.”
“The loss is tough to swallow, but our chances are as good as ever to return to state next year, and the girls know it, too.”
The Cougars lose Megan Kolness, their leading scorer and rebounder. The lone senior exits her basketball career as an all-tournament team member and a 1,000-point scorer for Ada-Borup.
“If you told me we would be here at the season’s start, I would’ve never believed it,” said Kolness, who will play volleyball at North Dakota State College of Science. “It’s tough knowing today was the last time I’ll ever play with my teammates, but we gave everything we had. … It just wasn’t enough.”