Sometimes a comeback just isn't meant to be.
Ada-Borup-Norman County West couldn't recover from a 10-point second half deficit despite a valiant effort in a 53-51 Minnesota Class 1A state girls basketball tournament loss to Sleepy Eye Thursday night at Williams Arena.
The Cougars (27-3) stormed back to take a 51-50 lead over the Indians (27-4) following a three-pointer from Mariah McKeever with 31 seconds to play.
But that's when Sleepy Eye senior point guard Madi Heiderscheidt stepped in and stole the game away from the Cougars.
Heiderscheidt, a College of St. Benedict (Minn.) signee, immediately attacked the basket after McKeever's three and responded with a layup nine seconds later to give the Indians a 52-51 lead.
Ada-Borup-NCW had an opportunity to take the lead back, but Heiderscheidt came up with a steal and was fouled with five seconds to play. She hit one of two free throws to put the Indians up 53-51.
"I've always felt like I need to be a leader when my team needs me. I know I had to do whatever it took in that situation to win," Heiderscheidt said. "Luckily I hit some shots when I had to."
The Cougars' Olivia Winfrey got a half-court shot off at the buzzer, but it missed the mark.
"Madi really got to show what she was about today," Sleepy Eye head coach Ryan Hulke said. "She's one of the top players in all of Class A. She does everything for us. I couldn't be prouder of her.
"I could see her licking her chops waiting for that pass (on the steal). She got one at the right time. She's a great anticipator on top of our zone defense."
The loss was Ada-Borup/NCW's first to a Class 1A opponent all season and snapped a nine-game winning streak. Ada-Borup-NCW lost in the Class A quarterfinals last year.
"We knew Heiderscheidt was a good player and she didn't disappoint," Cougars head coach David Smart said. "She hurt us the entire game. She didn't win it by herself, but there were times where she just took over. We'll grieve about this one tonight, but we have to be ready for the next two games."
The Cougars take on Stephen-Argyle in the consolation semifinals at noon today at Concordia-St. Paul University's Gangelhoff Center. Sleepy Eye advances to play Mountain Iron-Buhl in today's 2 p.m.semifinals at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Ada-Borup-NCW trailed 27-25 at the half after getting 17 points in the first 18 minutes from center Kora Kritzberger. But the Indians made a point of stopping the 5-foot-11 sophomore forward in the second.
Kritzberger picked up two quick fouls to begin the second and was relegated to the bench. She finished with 21 points and five rebounds.
"We tried to contest every shot of hers in the second half," Hulke said. "She's a beast and a good player. Mya (Ibberson) did a good job of contesting her more in the second half and got her into foul trouble."
Sleepy Eye also slowed down the speedy McKeever, who finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
The Indians began the second half on a 6-0 run and had built their 10-point lead with 6:34 remaining after a three-point play from McKenzie Cselovszki. But after that, the Cougars came right back with a 9-0 run over the next four-plus minutes to trim the lead to one.
"After I hit the three (with 31 seconds left), I didn't know we were up by one at first," McKeever said. "You never want to think a game is over. We kept battling and fighting. We never stopped. You don't want your season to end in heartbreak. But we still have two games left and hopefully we can finish strong."
SE (27-4): Krueger 0 0-0 0, Polesky 0 1-2 1, Heiderschedit 8 7-11 25, Ibarra 2 1-2 6, Ibberson 4 0-0 10, Himmelman 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Cselovszki 4 3-3 11. Totals: 18-39 12-18 53
ABNCW (27-3): Winfrey 1 0-0 2, Erickson 5 1-2 11, Kritzberger 9 3-5 21, McKeever 3 5-5 12, Smart 1 2-2 4, Johnson 0 1-2 1, Brommenschenkel 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-47 12-16 51.
Half: SE 27, ABNCW 25. 3-point goals: Heiderscheidt 2, Ibarra, Ibberson 2, McKeever. Total fouls: SE 18, ABNCW 15. Fouled out: Cselovszki, McKeever. Rebounds: SE 20 (Ibberson 7), ABNCW 36 (McKeever 8, Erickson 7). Assists: SE 11 (Heiderscheidt 4), ABNCW 15 (Winfrey 4). Turnovers: SE 18, ABNCW 20.