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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Ada-Borup falls 65-58 in opener

Photos by Joe Brown/Forum News Service Gehrtz: Ada-Borup's Haley Gehrtz (31) gets pressured on defense by Goodhue's Mikayla Miller during Thursday's Class 1A state quarterfinal game at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — In the biggest moment of Thursday’s Minnesota state Class A girls basketball quarterfinal game, Goodhue needed its youngest player to come through.

With the top-ranked and fourth-seeded Wildcats clinging to a 59-57 lead with 24.7 seconds remaining, eighth-grader Sydney Lodermeier stepped to the free-throw line. Even with the bright lights on the Mariucci Arena court, Lodermeier was unphased.

“Nothing was going through my head,” Lodermeier said. “I knew if I shot them the same way I do in practice, they’d go in.”

Sinking both free throws, Lodermeier and the rest of the Wildcats had the cushion it needed to finally put away fourth-ranked and fifth-seeded Ada-Borup in a grueling 65-58 victory.

“Sydney has had a big postseason. When you watch her play, she has poise and she doesn’t get rattled,” said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. “She’s not a finished product yet, but she’s not afraid of the big stage. Honestly, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that she was going to make those shots. She’s pretty solid.”

Lodermeier, who had 14 points off the bench, added, “It was really nerve-wracking, but we all stayed composed and it turned out fine.”

Now, the Wildcats (26-5) head to Williams Arena on Friday to take on defending Class A champion Minneota, which trounced Browerville 63-43.

Meanwhile, it was a bitter end for the Cougars (28-2), who led for over 25 straight minutes before Goodhue found some traction late in the second half.

“The ball didn’t bounce our way a couple times and it bounced their way a couple times, and that ended up being the difference,” said Ada-Borup head coach David Smart. “We knew coming in that Goodhue was going to be a tough matchup.”

With both teams trying to establish their high-pressure defenses early on, the Cougars finally took control after a layup by Haley Poehler to make it 10-8 with 12:09 left in the first half before securing a 30-26 halftime lead.

“It was a war out there for a while,” Smart said. “Bodies were flying everywhere.”

Goodhue was slowed down by a poor 3-for-7 first-half showing at the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Cougars’ Monica Vega, who broke her nose two days before Thursday’s contest, limited the Wildcats’ top scorer, Mikayla Miller, to nine first-half points. Miller came in averaging 24.2 points per game.

“We didn’t know if she was going to be able to play. She has a compound fracture, but she’s a tough kid,” Smart said about Vega. “We found a mask for her, we threw that thing on and she said she was fine. You could tell it was bothering her a little.”

After the break, Ada-Borup’s defense continued to bother Goodhue, and the Cougars took their biggest lead of the game when a 3-pointer from Shanina Stevenson make it a 44-37 game with 12:56 remaining.

After struggling to find her shot through the first 29 minutes, Miller finally broke through and put the Wildcats back in contention. Down by six with 10:58 left, Miller scored the team’s next six points, including four off steals, to tie it at 45-45 with 10:21 left.

“Mikayla took a while to get going. They were obviously keying on her; they were sagging off and taking her away in the post,” Wieme said. “To her credit, she didn’t force it and eventually, she found her way.”

Ada-Borup went back up by four before Goodhue sophomore Michelle Hadler drilled a 3-pointer to cut the Cougars’ lead to 51-50 with 5:14 left.

“I hoped it was going in and it went in,” Hadler said with a smile, describing the 3-pointer. “It was awesome.”

A layup by Miller put Goodhue ahead 52-51, and the Wildcats never trailed the rest of the way. Ada-Borup wouldn’t go away, keeping it at a one-possession game before Lodermeier’s late free throws sealed the victory.

“They outplayed us at the end and that made the difference,” Smart said.

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