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Chris Harrell / Forum News Service, Published March 14 2013

Ada-Borup prevails in Minnesota Class 1A state girls basketball quarterfinals

MINNEAPOLIS – Ada-Borup’s defense swarmed Maranatha Christian Academy from the outset during Thursday’s Minnesota Class 1A girls state basketball tournament at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.

Ada-Borup forced 16 turnovers in the first half and 24 for the game en route to a 70-53 victory over two-time defending state champion MCA (26-5).

“We kind of approached that as there’s no pressure on us, everyone’s expecting them to defend their title and we took that attitude coming in,” Ada-Borup coach David Smart said. “And you could see that. I didn’t think the girls played tight at all.”

Megan Kolness led Ada-Borup (27-3) with 19 points and eight rebounds while also dishing out four assists. Shaina Stevenson scored 14 points and Monica Vega finished with nine points, five assists and five steals in the victory.

Ada-Borup, which doesn’t boast a player taller than 5-foot-9, has dealt with size disadvantages all season. But in Thursday’s game, the Cougars showed little fear going against a Mustangs’ team with seven players 5-foot-9 or taller, including 6-foot-2 Onye Osemenam.

“We’re used to other teams being bigger,” Kolness said. “We knew their game plan was they played tight defense and we knew that ‘rip and go’s’ were open so the drives were open. We knew they had (Osemenam) in there too, so we had to be smart on pulling up or just going all the way in, and it worked.”

In addition to forcing turnovers, Ada-Borup also neutralized MCA’s top two scorers, Osemenam and Madison Lee. Osemenam came into the game averaging 11.3 points per game and Lee scored 14.2, but the duo was held to 12 total points.

“I thought Heidi did a really good job on (Lee) and (Vega) did a good job on her. It was definitely a team effort,” Smart said. “The girls did a nice job keeping people in front of them and at least making their shots tough.”

Kolness scored 14 points in the first half and Vega had five steals as the Cougars took a 37-27 lead into halftime.

“I think we were able to dictate pace for a while,” Smart said. “Anytime you can get up and down the floor, and anytime (Osemenam) is trailing the play, it’s much easier to attack the basket when she’s sitting at half court.”

Coming out of halftime, Stevenson made an immediate impact. She hit a 3-pointer with 17 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the game to give Ada-Borup a 40-27 lead, and she tallied all 14 of her points after the break. A 6-0 run by the Mustangs cut the deficit to 42-35 at 14:51 mark, but Stevenson answered with a 3-pointer, and the Cougars never led by less than 10 points the rest of the way.

“I figured I didn’t do very well in the first half, so I’d pick it up in the second half,” Stevenson said. “There was confidence after that first shot, and shots were just falling, so I guess it worked.”

The Cougars will face conference foe Win-E-Mac in the state semifinals at 2 p.m. today at the Target Center.

“We got to follow it up with another good game tomorrow,” Smart said. “The worry that always goes through a coach’s mind is you play the top dog and then you have a great game and then you lay an egg the next game. That’s a big thing we’ve got to be aware of, take care of the ball and do the little things that we kept doing and come out fired up like we did today. If we do that, I like our chances.”

ADA-BORUP (27-3): Stevenson 5-6 1-2 14, Vega 3-9 3-6 9, Kolness 6-15 5-6 19, Eggen 3-10 1-2 7, Gehrtz 2-6 2-2 6, Lee 3-4 1-3 7, Merkens 0-1 0-0 0, Hal. Poehler 0-1 0-0 0, Han. Poehler 3-4 2-2 8. Totals 25-56 15-23 70.

MARANATHA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (26-5): L. Lee 2-4 0-0 4, M. Lee 3-13 0-0 8, Jarnot 4-9 0-0 8, Payne 5-8 5-5 15, Osemenam 1-3 2-6 4, Austin, 0-2 0-0 0, Hammond 0-1 0-0 0, Stull 3-6 8-10 14. Totals 18-46 15-21 53.

Half: A-B 37, MCA 27. 3-pointers: A-B Stevenson 3, Kolness 2; MAC M. Lee 2, Total Fouls: A-B 18; MAC 22. Rebounds: A-B 34 (Kolness 8, Gehrtz 7); MAC 32 (Stull 8, Osemenam 6). Assists: A-B 11 (Vega 5, Kolness 4); MAC 8 (L. Lee 2, M. Lee 2, Jarnot 2). Turnovers: A-B 16; MAC 24.

Harrell writes for the Red Wing Republican-Eagle