BL boys come back, off to state [UPDATED]Published 10:13am Sunday, March 17, 2013 Updated 10:14am Tuesday, March 19, 2013
“Toughness” was the word Battle Lake head boys basketball coach Dan Peterka used to describe his team this season after Friday’s Section 6A championship victory over Ada-Borup, and it was certainly an appropriate word to follow the Battlers’ 56-54 comeback performance that earned them a trip to the state tournament next week in Minneapolis.
The Cougars threw off Battle Lake’s attack early, causing an abundance of turnovers and missed shots. Ada-Borup had success penetrating the Battler defense from the very first possession, which led to a 24-14 lead for the Cougars and forced coach Paterka to switch to a zone defense earlier than he said he had wanted.
That zone would help slow down Ada-Borup’s offense, but the Battlers would still trail at the half, 28-24.
It was just over a minute into the second when Battle Lake finally tied up the score and the game became a back and forth affair that saw six lead changes and seven ties.
With under five minutes left to play, Battle Lake positioned itself for victory with a 46-45 lead. The Battlers’ ball movement upcourt and control of the game’s tempo looked to have finally worn down the Cougars, but Ada-Borup would have one last surge after hitting a three pointer that cut the lead to 56-54 with 16 seconds to go.
Battler Dan Marso was fouled on the ensuing inbound and sent to the line. Despite hitting several key shots and free throws for Battle Lake just minutes before, Marso would miss the front end of the one-and-one, giving the Cougars one last opportunity.
With time winding down, the Cougars tried to break the Battlers’ defensive shell, but Battle Lake proved determined to make one last stand against any drive to the basket. Pressure from a Battler double team caused a loose ball that ended up in Battle Lakes’ hands as time ran out and the celebration began.
“I thought at halftime we hadn’t played our game yet, we hadn’t played real well offensively, we weren’t executing and were standing around a little too much,” said Paterka. “I felt like we could give ourselves a shot in the second half if we could just execute a little better. We cleaned some of that up. We told them if they just cleaned up those little things, we’d be fine.”
Three Battlers hit double digits in scoring for the game. Tony Ukkelberg led the team with 16. Marso contributed 13 and Petric VanErp dropped in 10.
The Cougars were led by Blake Fetting, who had 17 points. JD Kappes and Lance Ruebke followed up with 15 and 14, respectively.
With the win, the Battlers improve to 22-5. Ada-Borup, who lost last year’s match up to state champion Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, has now fallen in back-to-back Section 6A championship games.
The Battlers’ seeding and first round opponent will be announced Sunday. In their first trip to the state tournament since 2005, Battle Lake will travel to Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota for the Class A quarterfinals on Thursday.