Region 6 rematch

The top-ranked Bishop Ryan girls basketball team and District 11 champion Velva will meet in the Region 6 championship game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for the right to play in the state tournament.

The Lions (23-0) defeated TGU 74-52 in the first semifinal Tuesday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium, and the Aggies (22-2) punched their ticket to the championship game with a 53-39 victory over district foe Rugby in the second game.

The teams met on Jan. 28 at Ryan, with the Lions squeezing out an eight-point win. The Aggies are the last region opponent to knock off the Lions, but Ryan has won its last two against Velva.

“The biggest thing is we have to work on rebounding,” Velva coach Chris Braaten said. “I was not happy at all with our rebounding effort. Against Ryan, you have to get rebounds. If you give them second or third chances, it’s going to be a long night and a short season.”

Ryan is led by sophomore forward Hannah Stewart, who has scored 57 points in two region tournament games. Stewart averages 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

For Velva, it’s 5-foot-11 senior center Jaylen Newman leading the charge with 15.1 points and seven rebounds per contest.

TGU and Rugby meet in the third-place game at 6 p.m. The Panthers beat the Titans during the regular season, but TGU got the best of Rugby in the district tournament.

Bishop Ryan 74, TGU 52

TGU put a small scare into Bishop Ryan early, but an 18-0 run by the Lions thwarted any chance the Titans had at pulling the upset.

Stewart scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Lions. Junior guard Anika Rovig provided the outside production, hitting all four of Ryan’s 3-pointers. Rovig finished with 16 points.

Ryan’s defense keyed a pair of long runs to give the Lions a double-digit advantage heading into halftime. The Lions held TGU scoreless for the first five minutes, 20 seconds of the second quarter and limited the Titans to six points in the frame.

“We got into a flow and a rhythm with what we do best,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “Our defense gets us going.”

The Titans (17-7) seized the early momentum with two Akesha Juarez 3-pointers, giving TGU a 10-6 advantage past the halfway point of the first quarter. Turnovers swung the momentum in Ryan’s favor as TGU committed 17 errors in the first half and 26 for the game.

“Right away we came out and made a couple of nice baskets,” TGU coach Wade Schock said. “We hit some shots and got the momentum and then we made some errors and they capitalized. They make you make mistakes.”

A bright spot for the Titans was junior center Mattie Schmitt, who finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

“They have a little more size than a lot of teams,” Julie Stewart said. “Mattie Schmitt is a very patient player. She settles into her game and makes nice moves to the hoop.”

Velva 53, Rugby 39

Velva used a balanced second half on both ends of the court to shake off a feisty Rugby squad to advance to the region championship.

The Aggies’ full-court pressure led to 24 turnovers by the Panthers and kept Rugby’s outside game in check. The Panthers (15-9) missed on all eight of their 3-pointers and shot 33.3 percent from the field.

“We were able to force some turnovers,” Braaten said. “When we get that type of production on defense, that turns into more possessions for us that we can hopefully capitalize on.”

Freshman guard Shea Heidlebaugh – who scored 27 points against Our Redeemer’s in the region quarterfinals – failed to register a point against Velva. Heidlebaugh finished 0-for-7 from the field and committed five turnovers. Rugby’s guards finished with 11 points on 4-of-18 shooting.

“That’s a tribute to their defense,” Rugby coach Jennifer Brossart said. “They took us out of our game in the half court.”

The Aggies were led in scoring by seniors Jaylen Newman (20) and Emma Keller (17). Newman also grabbed eight rebounds.

“That’s what we needed,” Braaten said. “We needed our seniors to step up. The way they were playing, we were able to get some good looks (in the paint) one-on-one and (Newman) just kept hammering at it.”

Like Rugby, Velva struggled from the outside, but didn’t need to rely on it with Newman in the paint and Keller’s ability to get to the rim. Keller scored 13 points in the second half after getting into foul trouble earlier in the game.