Revenge is sweet. It becomes even sweeter when it involves eliminating a team from playoffs.
That's exactly what Ada-Borup did Saturday at Concordia's Memorial Auditorium with a 74-65 victory over Park Christian (16-10) in the Minnesota section 6, class 1A quarterfinal basketball game, ousting the same team it lost to by six on Jan. 31.
The win advances Ada-Borup onto Tuesday's section semifinal against Ulen-Hitterdal at Minnesota State Moorhead.
Unlike the two teams' first meeting, Ada-Borup (22-5) was in control over Park Christian, as it never sacrificed the lead it took with 11 minutes and 43 seconds left in the first half.
"Compared to the first time we played (Park Christian), we did a lot better job of limiting its inside production as well as its ability to drive," Ada-Borup coach Trevor Stewart said. "Specifically with (Hunter) Nickel and the freshman (Zach Kvalvog) performing as well as they did the first time we met, it was good to see our guys shut them down."
Ada-Borup's Lance Ruebke was again assigned to guard Kvalvog who put up 19 points in January. Ruebke limited him to just 3 points in the first half (15 total), but keeping the freshman's scoring ability under control wasn't the only thing the Ada-Borup junior did successfully.
Ruebke flexed his own offensive power with quick, agile drives to amass a game-high 21 points.
Thanks to Ruebke's tenacious drives and his stiff defense on Kvalvog, Ada-Borup was sparked onto a 13-0, six minute run to end the half with a 33-19 lead.
"We all knew our roles for this game, and mine was to keep Kvalvog's production to a minimum," Ruebke said. "I wasn't going to let him play as well as he did against me before."
It was the same for Mitchell Ruebke and Chase Hoven. The two Cougars sabotaged Hunter Nickel's usual offensive fury with fronts and backside help, also holding the 6 foot 5 inch junior to just 3 first half points.
"The biggest thing was just to play solid defense on Nickel by fronting him and keeping him off the boards," Hoven said. "It's a great confidence boost not only knowing we're going on, but knowing how good of a team we can be when we play together as a single unit with an ultimate goal of advancing."
Though advancing wasn't always as sure as it could've been. The Cougars' lead grew to 17 points, 41-24 with 15:40 remaining, but it would only crumble as Park Christian slowly chipped away at the gap.
Ada-Borup's advantage was chiseled down to 65-58 with 90 seconds remaining, and in a dire attempt to complete a comeback, the Falcons intentionally fouled the Cougars to the free throw line - many times sending Ada-Borup's top free throw shooter in Lance Ruebke (74%) to the stripe - where Ada-Borup sealed the avenging win.
"The struggles we had at the end of the first half were too much to handle," Park Christian coach Gary Walton said. "Mentally we just weren't tough enough... We got it close in the second half, but it almost seemed like we would give up on what we started once (Ada-Borup) answered."