Offense wins games, defense wins championships. The saying rang true again for Ada-Borup, but its focus is now set on the title next in line.
The No. 8-ranked Cougars (25-3) forced 39 turnovers to pass by New York Mills in the Minnesota section 6, class 1A semifinal tournament game with a 67-39 win at Concordia's Memorial Auditorium in Moorhead. Tuesday's sub-section championship victory was Ada-Borup's seventh in the past eight years.
The turnover stat column was heavily padded by Ada-Borup's 16 steals, as its high pressure, full-court defense led to its first points, and subsequently an 11-0 run after New York Mills (11-14) scored the game's opening two points.
It was just another gritty defensive showing out of Ada-Borup's coach Dave Smart's players.
"Defense was the difference tonight... it picked us up after a slow start on offense, and it continued to provide scoring opportunities," Smart said. "We rebounded well and kept their big girls off the boards, and we did what we do best by transitioning down the floor for points."
Contesting New York Mills' "big girls" were Ada-Borup's Megan Kolness and Haley Gehrtz. Kolness guarded the 5 foot 11 inch Lydia Rutten, while Gehrtz contained the 6 foot 1 inch Ellie Rutten.
Lydia was held to 8 points, and Ellie managed 14, but perhaps more surprisingly, Ada-Borup sacrificed just four offensive rebounds. It won the overall battle at the glass too, as it out hustled New York Mills by seven boards, 37 to 30.
Impressive for a team rounding out at a favored 5 foot 9 inches.
"Monica (Vega) and Shaina (Stevenson) really started everything for us on defense," Kolness, who led all scorers with 19 points said. "Haley and I knew we just had to be physical with the Rutten sisters... once we tired them out, we were able to execute on the turnovers they committed with transition scores and long offensive possessions."
Now the Cougars' focus locks onto the section 6 south half champion.
After hiding a few hands in its first meeting, Ada-Borup will leave all its cards on the table against Parkers Prairie Friday at Concordia, as a trip to the state tournament in the pot is worth going all in.
"It's going to be a little different this time around," Smart said. "It was a little vanilla in the first game, so this one should be fun."
Parkers Prairie divvied out one of the Cougar's three regular season losses in late January, but both teams avoided showing the other anything too special, knowing a second meeting in the section championship had a high probability.
Now it's set, and it's do or die, and whichever team holds the best poker face will advance.
"I'm going to be pumped up for Friday," Kolness said. "I'll be playing knowing it could very well be my last game, so hopefully revenge is in order."