MINNEAPOLIS - The Minneota girls basketball team grabbed 22 offensive rebounds. Ada-Borup had four. Minneota took 65 shots in the game. Ada-Borup took 29.
The discrepancies were staggering, but in the end, another statistic was more telling in Thursday's Class A girls' basketball state tournament quarterfinal played at Williams Arena.
Ada-Borup shot 62.1 percent from the field and Minneota was held to 35.4 percent shooting, including 26.5 percent in the second half. The result was a 67-63 win for the Cougars and a spot in the Class A semifinals.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Minneota freshman center Taylor Reiss, bottom, battles for a loose ball with Ada-Borup's Hannah Poehler in the first half of Thursday's Class A girls' basketball quarterfinal at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Ada-Borup junior Megan Kolness was ultra-efficient for the Cougars on her way to a team-high 25 points. The 5-foot-9 forward was 7 of 7 from the field, 4 of 4 from three-point range and a perfect 7 of 7 from the foul line. She scored 16 of her points in the second half and sparked a rally in the first nine minutes of the half that allowed the Cougars to gain a double-digit advantage and take control of the game.
In their second-straight trip to state, the Minneota Vikings suffered their second-straight first-round exit. Last year, Minneota shot 25 percent from the field in a 49-43 loss to Maranatha Christian Academy. This year's 35.4 percent was better, but still not good enough to lift the Vikings to the next round.
"We got way more shots than they did," said Minneota head coach Chad Johnston, who replaced eight players from last year's team. "We had plenty of shots within five or seven feet of the basket that didn't go for us. That was the frustrating thing.
Chelsea Nelson 3-7 8-9 14, Monica Vega 0-1 6-12 6, Megan Kolness 7-7 7-7 25, Jordan Myers 01 0-0 0, Taylor Kujava 7-12 1-2 16, Shaina Stevenson 0-0 3-4 3, Heidi Eggen 1-1 0-2 2, Haley Gehrtz 0-0 1-4 1, Hannah Poehler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-29 26-40 67. Three-Pointers 5-9 (Kolness 4-4) Rebounds 28 (Kujava 8) Assists 12 (Kujava 4) Steals 6 (Kolness 2) Blocks 2 Turnovers 22 Total Fouls 15.
Molly Hennen 2-6 2-2 6, Katelyn Kack 1-12 6-7 8, Kelsey Hennen 4-13 1-2 12, Taylor Reiss 12-18 3-8 27, Payton Boerboom 0-3 0-0 0, Shelby Corbin 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Stienessen 4-11 1-2 10, Kelsey Maeyaert 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Larson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-65 13-21 63. Three-Pointers 4-14 (K. Hennen 3-6) Rebounds 38 (Reiss 17) Assists 14 (Stienessen 6, K. Hennen 4) Steals 17 (Kack 3, K. Hennen 3, Corbin 3, Stienessen 3) Blocks 0 Turnovers 13 Total Fouls 29.
Halftime Score: Ada-Borup 33, Minneota 33.
"They're a good team that plays good defense, but for two years to come up here and not put together a great shooting performance, it's a little frustrating."
Minneota ends its season with a 29-2 record after losing its first game of the season to a Class A opponent. Its only other loss was to Class AAA Marshall. Ada-Borup advances to play in today's semifinal game against Mountain Iron-Buhl, which won its quarterfinal game against Sleepy Eye 50-31. The two teams are scheduled to tip off at noon at Target Center.
Freshman Taylor Reiss did all she could to try to lift Minneota into the semifinals. The 5-10 center scored a game-high 27 points on 12 of 18 shooting and was a terror on the glass with 17 rebounds, including 12 on the offensive end.
Reiss scored 13 of her points in the first half, most coming in the low post, to help the Vikings keep pace with Ada-Borup. Neither team led by more than five points in the opening 18 minutes, and at halftime they were deadlocked at 33.
Ada-Borup doesn't have a player taller than 5-9 on its roster, and Cougars head coach David Smart said Reiss was a difficult player for his team to contain due to her height, length and athleticism.
"We tried to put an extra body down there to battle with Reiss, but she's just an excellent rebounder," Smart said. "She has a nose for the ball and can jump really well and she knows what to do with it when she gets it. She's just a tough matchup for anybody."
The Vikings had matchup problems of their own to deal with. While Ada-Borup doesn't have any tall players in the paint, they have exceptional team speed.
"That presents a matchup problem for us because they're all quick," Johnston said. "We're looking at matching up Katelyn Kack with (leading scorer Taylor) Kujava and then there's no post players out there and we have two post players out there. Taylor Reiss is out there on Kolness, guarding someone on the perimeter, and that's something she hasn't had to do all year long."
Kujava, a 5-8 senior forward who scored 34 points in Ada-Borup's Section 6A championship win, led the Cougars with 14 first-half points and made a shot in the paint to open the second half, but was in foul trouble for much of the second half and finished with 16 points for the game. In her absence, it was Kolness who picked up her play.
Kolness hit a three-pointer from the top of the key 3 minutes, 36 seconds into the second half to put her team up 39-35. Coming out of a Minneota timeout, she drilled another three from the same spot just over a minute later to extend the lead to seven.
Kolness was banged up on a scrum for a loose ball under Minneota's basket with 11:40 left in the game, but returned to action less than two minutes later and quickly buried another three to put her team up 49-40. She added two free throws with 9:04 remaining, then converted on a three-point play with 7:46 left to push the lead to 54-42.
Minneota tried to switch up its defenses during the second half to slow Kolness down. It didn't work.
"We said going into the game, obviously we didn't want to lose Kujava, but we did say, too, 'You can't sit off Kolness, she's a good shooter. Don't lose her,'" Johnston said. "There were a couple times we just got lost.
"We tried to do something a little different because we were getting beat on basket cuts, so we went to zone. She found the weak spot in that and hit a three. Then defensively we were supposed to switch and nobody switched and we ended up with nobody within 10 feet of her."
Minneota's defensive struggles were coupled with issues on the offensive end. A team that likes to push the pace and score off turnovers, the Vikings weren't getting those chances Thursday. Minneota finished with six fastbreak points and 11 points off turnovers.
"We didn't do the things that we normally do that got us here," said Minneota senior guard Kelsey Hennen, who had 12 points, four assists and three steals. "We didn't push the ball and things like that that we definitely needed to do.
"We definitely missed a lot of bunnies that we usually make, and that cost us in the end, I'd say."
After Kolness helped Ada-Borup build a double-digit lead, the Cougars maintained a nine- to 12-point lead for most of the remainder of the game. With several different players who were comfortable handling the ball, the Cougars were content with working the clock over the final five-plus minutes and Minneota was forced to start fouling. The Cougars went 19-for-31 from the foul line in the second half and were 26-for-40 in the game.
Reiss made a basket down low with 48 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 64-55. With 28 seconds left, Minneota's Emily Stienessen got a steal and a layup to get the lead down to seven. A three-pointer by Hennen with 12.9 seconds remaining made the score 65-60, but Minneota ran out of time to try to complete the comeback.
Reiss, who has a few more years ahead of her with the Vikings, said those final minutes of the game provided a valuable experience for Minneota's young players.
"I learned to never give up," she said. "The senior captains (Hennen and Katelyn Kack) were a good influence for us. They showed us to never give up when you're down. We're going to miss them."
Stienessen, also a freshman, finished with 10 points for Minneota. Kack added eight points, five rebounds and three steals in her final game playing basketball for the Vikings. Molly Hennen, a sophomore forward, finished with six points and seven rebounds.
Most of Minneota's players will have another season or two to try to get back to state and get past the first round. Hennen and Kack, the team's lone seniors, won't get that chance. Still, Kelsey Hennen said she'll have a lot of good memories to look back on from her senior year.
"I feel like we had a great season. It sucks now, but we had a good shot to go a long way at state, we just didn't capitalize on that first game," Hennen said. "But looking back, winning the Camden Conference championship, having a 29-1 record coming in, we played great all year. It's just hard to lose now."