Roseau's girls basketball coach Kelsey Didrikson was adamant there is no formula for getting to the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 championship game.
"We've got talent and we have kids who have put in a lot of hours," Didrikson said. "There's no secret. There's no secret to success. We just have kids who have been playing together for a decade now. Obviously, it helps when you have horses like Kacie (Borowicz) and Katie (Borowicz), but they've been playing with their teammates for 10 years and that makes everyone better."
The defending Class 2A champions are headed to the section championship for the fourth straight season behind a 61-53 win over Barnesville at Concordia's Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday. The No. 3-ranked Rams (23-5) have won the section the last three seasons.
"It's always a privilege to play in the section championship," said Kacie Borowicz, who finished with 25 points Tuesday. "We know we have the talent and the skill to be there, but every time it's a privilege."
Barnesville (22-6) opened the game on an 8-2 run behind five points from Nicole Herbranson and a 3-pointer from Emma Nielsen. Roseau responded with a 16-0 run capped by a three-point play from Kacie Borowicz, who had 11 points during the run.
"I'll take her on my team any day," Didrikson said.
Roseau was on cruise control most of the first half, taking a 34-21 lead into the break. Herbranson was the only reason the Trojans were still alive in the first half, as she scored 16 of the team's 21 points. They had trouble finding secondary scoring, as Roseau's defense was constantly swarming Barnesville, forcing 11 turnovers in the first half.
"It's tough when you turn the ball over and give them extra chances," Barnesville coach Ryan Bomstad said. "That's what they did in the first half. They had 10 offensive boards and we turned the ball over 11 times. They'll make you pay for it."
Roseau had a 49-32 lead in the second half, but Barnesville did not go quietly. The Trojans answered with a 15-2 run to cut the lead to 51-47 with 6 minutes, 7 seconds to play.
"You get that sense of urgency," Bomstad said. "You're down to 18 minutes in the season, playing for the seniors and playing hard. No one wants to be done now, so that's the hardest part. You just go as hard as you can."
Didrikson told Kacie Borowicz to step up and put the team on her back. She answered by scoring a jumper and adding two free throws as part of a 10-4 run to seal it.
"It's been a great year considering everything our team has gone through," Bomstad said. "I would take this team to anywhere and everywhere. They're not just basketball players, but people and it's a family. We've stuck together through the whole thing, through thick, thin and otherwise."
Herbranson finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds in her final game with Barnesville. She's headed to Minnesota State Moorhead next year for basketball. Her older sister, Jaynie, died in a car accident in January at the age of 28. Jaynie played basketball for Barnesville and Concordia and was a volunteer coach in Barnesville. Friday, the day of the section championship game, is two months to the day of the accident.
"I couldn't be more proud of a group," Bomstad said. "I don't know how other teams would have been affected to lose someone like Jaynie in their program. For us, it's devastating. They all stuck together and played together."
Half: Roseau 34, Barnesville 21
R: Johnson 6, Kac. Borowicz 25, Kat. Borowicz 10, Hough 8, Christianson 4, Dale 3, Waling 5.
B: Herbranson 24, Meyer 6, McIntyre 7, Nielsen 10, Passa 2, Mulcahy 4.