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Nick Wagner / Special to The Forum, Published March 15 2013

Ada-Borup advances to Minnesota Class 1A state girls basketball title game

MINNEAPOLIS – Ada-Borup delivered the knockout blow to Win-E-Mac on Friday, and this time the Patriots are down for the count.

Ada-Borup snuck by Pine to Prairie Conference foe Win-E-Mac 62-55 in the Minnesota Class 1A state girls basketball tournament semifinals at Target Center.

It was the Cougars’ third victory in as many meetings against the Patriots.

The win advances Ada-Borup (28-3) into the state title game, a place its familiar with. But it has been too long since its last championship berth for head coach Dave Smart.

“The girls must all be pumped up, because not a single one was a part of either championship team in 2008 or 2009,” Smart said. “Not a lot of people could think the girls could even get to state, but now we’re here and playing for the title … now every person who said, ‘They can’t,’ is swallowing their words.”

Ada-Borup wouldn’t be playing in today’s championship game had it not received the scoring performance Monica Vega provided her team against Win-E-Mac (27-3).

Vega played all 36 minutes and scored a team-high 18 points, and the junior teamed up with Heidi Eggen to hit pivotal shots at the game’s end.

Win-E-Mac led 51-49 with 5 minutes, 44 seconds to play, and then Eggen hit a short jumper.

The Patriots’ Korbyn Ross, who led her team with 18 points, followed Eggen’s score by hitting two free throws to keep a two-point lead, but Vega put in a layup followed by another by Eggen to give A-B a 55-53 lead at 2:46.

The Cougars would then hit seven of their eight bonus free throws to keep Wine-E-Mac at bay.

“We underestimated how strong (Win-E-Mac) really was after we handled them in the first two games,” Vega said. “They didn’t back down either when we pushed in the end, but we just stayed strong knowing where we’d be if we could win.”

Ada-Borup’s defense didn’t perform as well as it’s capable of doing, but it still managed to force 21 turnovers, giving its offense just enough opportunities to score 17 points off of turnovers.

“We didn’t shoot the ball enough to even give ourselves a chance at the end,” Win-E-Mac coach Ian Hanson said. “We weren’t nearly as aggressive as how we played leading up to when we stole the lead. … We laid off, and you can’t do that against a team like Ada-Borup.”

Ada-Borup will play Minneota in the state championship game at noon today at Target Center.

“I’m excited for the girls,” Smart said. “Last time we played for the title we were the definite favorite, but it’s a little different in terms of tomorrow. We’re the underdog, but anything can happen, even against a team who is as good as Minneota.”

AB: Kolness 4 4-6 12, Eggen 5 4-6 14, Gehrtz 0 1-2 1, Stevenson 4 4-4 15, Vega 4 9-10 18, Lee 0 0-0 0, Merkens 0 2-2 2, Poehler 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 24-30 62.

WEM: Kaster 6 5-8 17, Juhl 0 0-0 0, McKeever 4 2-3 10, Mandt 1 0-0 2, Ross 5 5-8 18, Sonstelie 0 2-2 2, Espeseth 3 0-0 6, Glass 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 14-21 55.

Half: AB 25, WEM 22. 3-pointers: Stevenson 3, Vega 1, Ross 3. Team fould: AB 16, WEM 17. Rebounds: AB 32 (Kolness 8), WEM 29 (Kaster 10). Assists: AB 3 (Vega 2), WEM 6 (McKeever 4). Steals: AB 4 (Vega 3), WEM 5 (McKeever, Ross 2). A–1,447.