Battle Lake lived up to its nickname against Ada-Borup when it needed to most.
The Battlers fought back from a first-half, 10-point deficit and held off a surging Ada-Borup team to win Friday's Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6 boys basketball title game 56-54 in Morris.
Freshman guard Tony Ukkelberg stepped up with a team-high 16 points to lead Battle Lake to the state tournament for the first time since 2005.
“We mesh well as a team, and we believed in each other after Ada-Borup built a 10 point lead,” Ukkelberg said. “But we just continued to work and play tough against their best players to the end.”
The Cougars’ Lance Ruebke pushed Ada-Borup to a 24-14 lead with 5 minutes, 1 second to play in the first half, but Battle Lake executed off of two turnovers to jump on a 10-4 run to pull within four at the break.
“When you believe you’re better than what you showed tonight, it’s disappointing to not play as well as we should’ve,” Ada-Borup coach Trevor Stewart said. “When we committed a couple nervous turnovers and didn’t finish, it allowed Battle Lake to make us pay and get back into the game.”
It was a teeter-totter type of game following halftime.
Six lead changes and seven ties took place in the second half, as every shot that fell for Battle Lake, Ada-Borup (23-6) followed with one of its own.
It never settled into the hands of one team until Battle Lake (19-5) grabbed a 46-45 lead with 4:40 left off of an Ukkelberg score.
Then it was Battle Lake’s game to lose. Ada-Borup came within one with 1:17 to play and eventually had a chance to win with a last-second shot, but a double team caused a game-ending turnover.
“We weren’t even expected to be in this position at the season’s midway point, but the team battles and put its play together at the right time,” Battle Lake coach Dan Peterka said. “We gave ourselves a shot once we settled down and worked as a team, and it paid off.”