Stewart, Bohl lead Lions over Knights

Whenever the Bishop Ryan girls basketball team needed a timely basket or rebound, sophomore forwards Hannah Stewart and Gabbie Bohl were there.

The frontcourt duo combined for 41 points and 22 rebounds in Ryan’s 64-35 home victory over District 12 crosstown rival Our Redeemer’s Christian School on Tuesday. Both Stewart (18 points, game-high 12 rebounds) and Bohl (game-high 23 points, 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles.

“We’ve really been working on high post to low post throughout practice and looking for each other,” Stewart said. “But it was a team effort. Our teammates are always looking for us.”

The top-ranked Lions (9-0 overall, 1-0 district) led from start to finish, jumping out to an early 10-2 lead. Stewart and Bohl tallied 15 of Ryan’s 19 first-quarter points and helped limit ORCS (6-4, 1-1) to five points in the opening frame.

“The energy and aggressiveness on defense, I was very happy with,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “We would force them into a turnover or we would be jumping in a passing lane.”

The undersized Knights didn’t have an answer for the 6-foot-2 forwards. When ORCS played man-to-man defense, senior forward Ashley Koppinger (5-7) had the difficult task of slowing down Bohl, while senior forward Emily VanLith (5-10) was matched up against Stewart.

“It’s tough when you play against two six-footers,” ORCS coach Kory Nelson. “We continued to battle. Hopefully we’ll meet them a couple more times and we’ll improve each time.”

Trailing by 20-plus points the majority of the second half, the Knights went on a mini-run in the third quarter. Koppinger and eighth-grade guard Morgan Olson each tallied five points and VanLith chipped in four as ORCS cut Ryan’s lead to 12. But that was as close as the Knights would get. The Lions countered with a run of their own and increased their lead to 22 at the end of the frame.

“(ORCS) is a very aggressive team and we definitely had to respect them,” Bohl said. “They have some really good shooters as well.”

The Knights limited Stewart’s production in the second half, allowing her to score just four points in the third and shutting her out in the fourth. They couldn’t do the same to Bohl, who scored six points in both the third and fourth quarters.

Ryan’s defense as a whole kept ORCS’ offense in check throughout the game. The Lions -who play a similar style of fast-tempo offense – limited the Knights’ transition opportunities and forced ORCS into several turnovers. Olson led ORCS with 14 points.

“We thought we could maybe be get up and down the court with (Ryan),” Nelson said. “When we went to a press, we lost some of their people and we didn’t get back as fast as we should have. It wasn’t lack of effort.”

Julie Stewart said a win against ORCS feels a little nicer than wins against other opponents.

“They do know these girls and we play them two times, sometimes three times a year and they play them in the summer,” she said. “It always feels good. (ORCS) is always going to push you because they play very hard.”

With the game well in hand for the Lions, the focus shifted toward the ORCS bench midway through the fourth quarter. ORCS senior forward Billie Bangen exited the game complaining of chest pains and being short of breath. The medical staff attended to her at the bench throughout the remainder of the game and after the game when both teams had gone into their respective locker rooms. Nelson did not provide a further update on her condition.

Both teams play again Friday at 7:15 p.m. Ryan travels to Berthold while ORCS hosts Kenmare.