30 and counting
Julie Stewart found herself in uncharted territory when she strolled into Bishop Ryan’s locker room during halftime of the Lions’ season opener.
For the past couple of seasons, Ryan had made a habit of blowing teams out early and playing their reserves late. They had led at the intermission in all 29 of their consecutive wins.
But Friday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium, the Lions trailed Thompson at the half and needed to rally from a one-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter. Stewart’s squad didn’t panic, instead eventually rolling to a 60-45 victory. There was no need to worry, Stewart said.
“We weren’t focused on the fact that we were trailing,” she said. “We were focusing on things that were so correctable. They came out and made some adjustments.”
The Lions (1-0) minimized their turnover total to two in the fourth quarter – after committing 22 through three frames – and outscored the Tommies 20-8.
Ryan senior Anika Rovig and juniors Hannah Stewart and Maddie Wald tallied six points apiece in the final eight minutes.
“I think one thing that motivated us was were were losing,” said Stewart, who had a team-high 17 points. “We looked at the scoreboard and were like, ‘OK, we need to get going here.’ We just kinda figured we needed to calm down, pass the ball, keep our turnovers to a minimum and play like we know how.”
Wald opened the fourth with a 3-pointer from the corner for the first lead change since midway through the second quarter. That jumper, which came off a slick Rovig assist, put the Lions ahead for good. Wald later capped a 9-0 run that gave Ryan the first double-digit lead of the game. That open triple resulted from of a pair of ball reversals and a kick-out.
“We need to show some patience in the half-court set,” Julie Stewart said. “That was one thing we did in the second half. We got the ball inside and out, reverse; we just showed a little more patience. When you do that, a defense does wear down.”
Ryan limited the Tommies (0-1) to 15 points second-half points after trailing 30-26 at halftime. Switching to a 2-3 zone allowed the Lions to be aggressive on the perimeter while their twin towers – 6-2 posts Hannah Stewart and junior Gabbie Bohl – protected the rim.
“It’s tough to find shots against their defense and then when you do find them, they’re forcing you to alter them quite often,” Thompson coach Jason Brend said. “They don’t give you a lot of second opportunities either.”
Ryan held Thompson to 17 of 52 shooting (33 percent) and forced 20 3-point attempts, of which the Tommies converted three. In the fourth quarter, Thompson chucked up eight treys, making one.
“It’s a start,” Julie Stewart said. “There’s things we can get better on. But we made some adjustments in the second half. Now hopefully we can just sharpen and be ready to play right off the bat.”
Bohl chipped in 14 points, with eight coming in the first quarter. Wald totaled 13 and Rovig had nine.
Senior Shannon Galegher paced Thompson with a game-high 19 points.
Ryan looks to extend its winning streak today with an 8 p.m. tipoff against New Town at the Auditorium.
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.