‘We wanna do more’: Loaded Lions eyeing title this time around

When Quinn Harmon’s trip to Europe this summer caused her to miss a basketball camp with her Bishop Ryan squad, Harmon sent a text message to her teammates to let them know she was thinking of them.

The message was a countdown to when the Lions could return to the state tournament for the second straight season, a feat they accomplished by defeating Velva on Thursday in the Region 6 championship.

As the only senior on top-ranked Ryan’s stacked team, Harmon is the most invested in making sure the Lions’ stockpile of young talent earns a state championship this year. And her teammates know it.

“I feel like I’m putting a little pressure on myself, like, ‘This is my last year. This is my last chance for a championship,’ ” Harmon said. “Even (sophomore forward) Hannah (Stewart) said to me one day, she said, ‘I’m gonna do anything I can do to get you a state championship.’ “

Ryan (24-0) begins its title quest with a matchup against Region 4 champion Benson County in the first round of the Class B state tournament at approximately 8:30 tonight at the Fargodome. The Lions lost to Linton-HMB on a buzzer-beater in the first round last season, then won their next two games to take fifth place.

Benson County (24-1) is led by senior guard Sara Schwanke (15.6 ppg) and boasts a capable post duo of 5-foot-11 senior Meghan Jorgenson and 6-foot senior Becca Eberle. The pair combines to average more than 20.2 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.

“I think they’re a very balanced basketball team,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said of Benson County. “They’ve got some nice guards, they’ve got some size, so we’re gonna have to be ready to play.”

The Lions have dominated opponents this season, winning all but one of their games by double figures. Six-foot-2 sophomores Hannah Stewart (21.5 points, 10.5 rebounds per game) and Gabbie Bohl (15.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg) handle the interior, while junior guard Anika Rovig (11.2 ppg, 7.4 apg) and sophomore Maddie Wald (10.1 ppg) provide outside scoring punch.

Harmon, a 5-9 wing, averages 8.5 points per contest and is the Lions’ perimeter defensive stopper.

“I guess I’ve taken a lot of pride on the defensive side now,” Harmon said. “I work really hard on that and I think I bring a lot of energy. It’s really fun for me. If I take someone that’s averaging 14 points a game and I can hold them to four points, that’s almost more fun for me than scoring.”

With everyone from last season’s rotation returning, the Lions are the prohibitive favorite to win it all this weekend in Fargo. Ryan is the unanimous No. 1 team in Class B and has the experience of playing in the state tournament.

“Last year we were more satisfied with just getting there because we were so young and it was the first time for all of us,” Rovig said. “We didn’t really realize how much we could accomplish at the state tournament. Now, it’s kind of like, we’re there and we wanna do more than we did last year.”