Ada-Borup had a short, but purposeful list of goals it hoped to achieve for Tuesday's Minnesota section 6, class 1A boys semifinal game at Minnesota State Moorhead's Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.
Number one. Stop Ulen-Hitterdal's Neil Henrickson and Landon Schultz, its top two scorers.
Goal two. Produce in transition.
Ada-Borup's final and most important goal was simple. Win.
The No. 1-ranked Cougars surpassed every above benchmark, trumping Ulen-Hitterdal (22-7) with a 49-39 victory en route to its second consecutive sub-section title.
Ada-Borup (23-5) now plays for a trip to state in Friday's section 6 final against No. 3-ranked Battle Lake at 7 p.m. in Morris.
Tuesday's win over No. 2-ranked Ulen-Hitterdal was Ada-Borup's second this year, and its unique defensive attack against the Spartans' offense again resulted in a win.
Ada-Borup held Henrickson and Schultz to a combined three first half points, as JD Kappes and Blake Fetting hounded the two guards while help defense awaited any call for assistance.
The assistance was often needed, but it brought positive results including three forced Ulen-Hitterdal turnovers Ada-Borup capitalized off of with transition buckets, leading to the 10-0 advantage the Cougars developed just 2 minutes 37 seconds into the game.
"Ada-Borup's kids came out and played hard and quick on defense," Ulen-Hitterdal coach Brett Maass said. "They're a really good basketball team, and when they get up on a run, it's hard to crawl back into the game... they played to win."
Showing the utmost drive to win for Ada-Borup was its hot-handed guard, Lance Ruebke. The junior continued his scoring tear he's been on since the opening round with a game high 17 point performance. Ruebke collected 14 points against Waubun and 21 in Ada-Borup's quarterfinal win over Park Christian.
"Beating Ulen-Hitterdal always feels awesome, and its even better in a tournament game," Ruebke said. "Scoring comes after great defense, and it showed tonight."
The only knot Ada-Borup experienced was seen with 5:20 to play. The Cougars led 42-30, but a defensive lapse gave way to a Schultz triple and a Henrickson pull-up jumper, cutting the lead to seven points.
But seven points was as close as Ulen-Hitterdal ever came to the Cougars, as Ruebke supported a burst similar to its game-opening run to end the Spartans' scoring spurt.
"Holding the lead the entire game was huge... it always put pressure on (Ulen-Hitterdal), and allowed us to relax," Ada-Borup coach Trevor Stewart said. "Now it's all about preparing and relaxing for the section title."
Images from Tuesday's game are available to purchase at nickwagnerphotos.com.