The X factor
ROSEAU, Minn.—Victoria Johnson is the X factor in the success of the Roseau High School girls basketball team.
The Rams won their fourth consecutive Minnesota Section 8AA championship Saturday and take a 24-5 record and the No. 3 seed into the Class AA state tournament quarterfinals Wednesday.
Johnson, a starter on last season's undefeated, state championship team, has struggled with health issues in her leg muscles. When the 6-foot-2 senior center plays, Roseau is 21-1. When she's missed games for health reasons, the Rams are 3-4.
"Vic rested at the start of the season coming off volleyball,'' Roseau coach Kelsey Didrikson said. "Her legs were bothering her again at the end of the regular season, so she rested again for a few games.
"Vic is a presence on defense. Sometimes it shows in the number of blocks she gets. I think some teams subconsciously are hesitant about going into the lane with her.''
Johnson averages 2.2 blocks a game, as well as 5.9 rebounds. She is third in scoring (8.3 ppg) behind sisters Kacie and Katie Borowicz, who average 26.8 and 19.3 points, respectively.
"I've had (muscle pain) for two years,'' Johnson said. "It comes back after I've played a lot. The only way to get rid of it is to sit for a bit. Otherwise, it just hurts so bad. It's been frustrating. It's so hard not to be out there playing.''
The Rams average 75 points a game, second only to Maranatha Christian (77.6) in Class AA scoring in the state. Roseau has kept rolling after graduating 2017 Miss Basketball finalist Kiley Borowicz as well as double-figure scorer Ivy Braaten.
"We try to play the same as last year, to push the ball,'' Kacie Borowicz said. "We've had to adjust as far as not having all the same people. Last year we'd play a game of big runs, where we could run off 15, 20 points at a time. We've had to play more of a full game and be stronger on defense.''
The adjustments showed early in the season. With Roseau replacing key graduation losses, Johnson sitting and the season starting late after Roseau played at the state volleyball tournament, the Rams suffered three losses in December.
"We were a young and green team at the start of the year,'' Didrikson said. "The girls were acclimating to new roles. And the volleyball season went long. That was a good problem for our girls. But it did impact us. We had girls who had to grow into their roles.''
The finish to the season is just like the previous three—another trip to state.
"For us seniors, that means every year on varsity making it to state,'' Johnson said. "That's crazy. Not many people can say they did that.''
Roseau at a glance
• Coach: Kelsey Didrikson.
• Record: 24-5, Section 8AA champion.
• State tournament opener: The defending state champion and No. 3-seeded Rams play Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (29-2) at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Class AA state quarterfinals at Minneapolis Williams Arena.
• Starting lineup: 6-2 sr. F Victoria Johnson (8.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.2 bpg), 5-8 jr. G Kacie Borowicz (26.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, 4.1 spg), 5-4 fr. G Katie Borowicz (19.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.7 spg, 5.1 apg), 5-8 sr. F Haley Ostgaard (2.6 ppg), 5-9 sr. F Mya Hough (5.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg).
• Top reserves: 5-10 sr. McKayla Christianson (4.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg), 5-6 fr. Julia Braaten (3.1 ppg), 5-4 sr. Bria Dale (2.7 ppg), 5-6 jr. Emma Whaling (4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg).