Battler poise brought season’s success [UPDATED]Published 10:17am Sunday, March 17, 2013 Updated 10:18am Tuesday, March 19, 2013
If Ada-Borup had scored in their last possession of Friday’s Section 6A championship game, Battle Lake junior Dan Marso would have had the somber memory of a missed free throw that could have put away the Cougars with 11 seconds to go in the game.
But even if the outcome had been different, it wouldn’t have taken away from the fact that Marso scored clutch baskets, from the field and from the line, just minutes earlier. It wouldn’t have taken away from the fact that he and his teammates turned on their defense and fought off a surging Cougar offense in the final minutes or that they had done similarly in the regular season after a few hiccups that lead to losses.
In basketball, poise is more than making shots when it matters; it’s about steadying your play before it matters — before a game, or a season, can get away.
“This is a good group of kids, said Battler head coach Dan Paterka. “We had our struggles early and we have some youth on this team. We’ve just matured and gotten better and better all year.”
Those struggles included two losses in the first six games of the season to Wheaton/Herman-Norcross and to Highway 210 rival Henning in a game that went down to the last shot.
Battle Lake would go on to win six in a row after the loss, but would be derailed by a Brandon/Evansville team with five wins and six losses. Despite those upsetting defeats, Paterka said the team kept their focus moving forward and never lost control of the season.
“They come to practice each day to get better and they work hard,” Paterka said as his team celebrated their Section 6A championship victory. “We’ve gone through our roadblocks and scheduled some tougher team’s down the end of the season to get ready for a moment like this game and it paid off.”
For Marso, it’s the teams reliance on each other that has built their confidence and is moving them forward as they prepare for the state tournament.
“We’re coming together as a family,” said Marso. “We’re playing well together and that’s what it takes to win.”
The community has also been a major part of that steadying support. For coach Paterka, a trip to the state tournament is a chance to celebrate the community’s efforts in helping the team make their stand this season.
“It’s nothing but good,” said Paterka. “It brings notoriety to the community, to program and to the school. It means an awful lot.”