A crowning of a new state champion from Minnesota's Class 1A girls state basketball tournament is in order, and Ada-Borup feels it is rightfully next in line.
Ada-Borup is riding an emotional high after it ousted No. 2-ranked Maranatha Christian Academy, the two-time reigning state champions, in Thursday's 70-53 quarterfinal game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Defensive stubbornness again proved to be crucial for Ada-Borup, as it forced 24 turnovers and shut down Maranatha Christian's 6 foot 2 inch Onye Osemenam, who averaged 11.3 points per game and 9 rebounds per game prior to Thursday.
Haley Gehrtz was again requested to defend the Cougar's biggest opposing player, a role she has assumed throughout playoffs. So far Gehrtz has played phenomenal, and she continued her tough defensive play by holding the Mustang's (26-5) Osemenam to just 4 points and 6 boards, all the while being 5 inches shorter.
"This win pumps us up so much knowing we knocked off the top team," Gehrtz said. "It was really intense going up against (Osemenam), and when she fouled out it gave a huge boost to the team at the end."
Giving Ada-Borup (27-3) a boost offensively was Shaina Stevenson. The 5 foot 1 inch guard shied away from even attempting a shot in the first half, but she boldly stepped up her game in the second, as Stevenson delivered 14 points.
Nine of her points came from beyond the arc, as the junior nailed every three-point try.
"Knowing how I played in the first half I figured I personally needed to pick it up in the second," Stevenson said. "My confidence skyrocketed after my first shot went in, then the shots just kept falling from that point on."
Stevenson scored the second half's first points by nailing one of her three triples to push Ada-Borup's lead to 40-27.
After a Gehrtz jumper, Ada-Borup went on a scoring hiatus and Maranatha thrived on an 8-0 run, but that's when Stevenson stepped up, once more nailing a triple at the 14:15 mark to push the Cougars back ahead by 10 points, and it never held a lead of a lesser margin the rest of the game.
"We dictated the pace at the game's end, and we knew all the pressure was on (Maranatha) being they were expected to defend the title well," Ada-Borup coach Dave Smart said. "Now the worry that runs through every coach's mind after playing great against the 'top dog' is that your team lays an egg the next day, but I have confidence in my girls to come out fired up tomorrow."
The Cougars hope to step back into the championship limelight it stood in at the 2008 and 2009 state tournaments, but it must outdo Win-E-Mac for the third time this season in Friday's 2 p.m. semifinal game at Target Center if it is even to have a shot at another title.
"We feel pretty confident after today's game," Stevenson said. "After getting the defending state champions, I guess we can get anyone now."