After completing an undefeated season with a convincing 75-64 victory over Sauk Centre on Saturday in the Class 2A championship game, Roseau (32-0) can proudly call itself a basketball town.
Well, not quite. Yet it's clear things are changing on Minnesota's northern border, where it's always been assumed that kids lace up hockey skates as soon as they can walk.
But as the Rams' remarkable season showed, basketball has found a home there.
"We know the whole town is rooting for us back home," said senior Kiley Borowicz, Roseau's leading scorer and driving force. "Even hockey boys."
Credit the deep and skilled Rams, who turned their third consecutive state tournament berth into their Mona Lisa. Running and shooting like a team determined not only to win a championship but change a mind-set, Roseau was dominant in the tournament. The Rams defeated all three opponents by double-digit margins, starting slow yet finishing strong to win their first state basketball title.
That was again the case Saturday. Sauk Centre (31-2), which had won 30 consecutive games after a loss to Anoka, jumped out to a 13-3 lead.
Roseau never wavered. Even though Borowicz wasn't scoring at the clip to which she had been accustomed — after 69 points in the first two games she had just six at halftime — the Rams battled back. They outscored Sauk Centre 30-10 to take a 33-23 halftime lead.
"It's not really common for me to score that low, but we were ahead by 10. That's what we were all taking about [at halftime]," said Borowicz, who finished with a team-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. Her sister Kacie, a sophomore, picked up the first-half slack with 11 points en route to 19 total.
In the second half, Sauk Centre hit its first seven shots. But the Mainstreeters were never able to cut the lead to under six points against the taller, stronger Rams.
"They are so difficult to come back against because they've got so many weapons," Sauk Centre coach Scott Bergman said.
Considering where the Rams call home in northwestern Minnesota, Roseau coach Kelsey Didrikson said the championship has brought a new, exciting element to the town of 2,400.
"We're really excited to bring this back to Roseau," she said. "This been has fun for the community. It's different than a state hockey title. It's been a fun learning experience, and the community has embraced it."