Sioux outlast Ryan: Braaten’s offense too much for Lions in second half

Hunter Braaten was in his zone.

The run started with a floater through the lane. The 5-foot-10 junior followed that up with a pair of free throws, a jumper, a steal and layup and a game-tying free throw to send Westhope-Newburg to overtime. In the extra frame, he recorded his team’s first five points to create the cushion necessary to knock off Bishop Ryan 51-45 on Friday.

Braaten’s offensive prowess came when the Sioux most desperately needed it. Trailing the Lions by five with under five minutes to go in the game, he started his attack. By the time he had finished scoring all 14 W-N points in a seven-minute stretch bridging the fourth quarter and overtime session, the Lions were down for the count. The flurry of buckets came after Braaten scored just four points in the game’s first three frames. He finished with a game-high 21.

“I just found my shots,” Braaten said. “Drove a little bit more than I did in the first half.”

With time winding down in regulation and Ryan nursing a one-point lead, Braaten drove the lane. His shot didn’t find the bucket but Braaten drew enough contact to go to the line. He proceeded to make one of his two foul shots, extending the Sioux’s chances.

“I like to lead this team,” Braaten said. “That’s what I do best.”

Brody Bosch’s desperation 3-pointer missed off the front iron to send the game to overtime, where W-N led the rest of the way.

By beating Ryan for the first time since Bob Beaudrie was a first-year Sioux coach in the 2002-03 season, W-N (6-2) exorcised a longtime demon. And by refusing to yield open shots, the Sioux were able to stay in the game while the offense stalled.

“Offensively, we just kinda struggled to get things going,” Beaudrie said. “We were missing layups and missing a lot of free throws. Despite all that, to come away with a win says a lot for these guys.”

For the game, Ryan (5-4) shot just 33 percent (19-of-58), a figure equally as bad as the Sioux’s 16-of-48. But the Lions’ problems extended to the foul line. Ryan made just five of its 17 attempts from the charity stripe.

The overall poor showing from the Lions, who also got outrebounded 44-32, left coach Scott Medalen thoroughly displeased.

“Awful effort,” Medalen said. “I think it’s lack of effort and lack of concentration and lack of real desire. … There was no bright spot.”

Bishop Ryan led 18-14 at halftime thanks largely to Bosch scoring 10 of his eventual team-high 17 points. The junior point guard’s open looks disappointed after the break, in time for Braaten to take over.

Westhope-Newburg hosts Rugby on Thursday, the same day Berthold visits Bishop Ryan.