Offensive explosion

It didn’t seem to matter who shot the ball for the Bishop Ryan girls basketball team Tuesday because everything was going through the hoop.

Eight players recorded a basket and four scored in double figures for the top-ranked Lions, who tallied a season high in points during a 91-34 victory against Rugby.

Junior forward Hannah Stewart nearly outscored the Panthers herself with a season-best 30-point performance – 24 coming in the first half – and added 10 rebounds and four blocks. Stewart scored 13 of Ryan’s 21 points in the first quarter and the Lions opened up a 15-point advantage after eight minutes.

“We figured they were probably going to come out in a zone because they’re a smaller team and we have a couple plays that work really well against zone defense,” Stewart said.

The Lions (6-0) shared the wealth throughout the game as all five starters scored in the first quarter and combined for 47 points in the opening half. Rugby junior Darby Deckert scored the first points of the second quarter before Ryan responded with a 10-0 run to take a 31-8 lead. The Panthers (3-3) hit double digits with 5:10 left in the first half when junior McKenzie Johnson went 3-for-3 from the free-throw line after getting fouled behind the 3-point arc.

“They’re not the No. 1 team in the state for nothing,” Rugby coach Jen Brossart said. “They’re a great team. I don’t know any team in the state that’s going to be able to stop them. There have been teams that have been close, but by the end of the season they’re going to be tough to beat.”

Deckert led the Panthers with 13 points.

Tough defense and unselfish play in transition led to a flurry of easy baskets for the Lions. Ryan outscored Rugby 26-8 in the third quarter, doing damage in the post with Stewart and fellow 6-foot-2 junior Gabbie Bohl and from the outside with six 3-pointers. Bohl also recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“We want to continue to focus on the little things that make big plays,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “They got the job done as a group. They made some excellent passes. We’re being more efficient in our offense.”

Ryan recorded 24 assists led by senior guard Anika Rovig’s seven. She added 11 points and had just one turnover.

“Our guards have great vision and we’re always relying on their vision,” Hannah Stewart said, “especially Anika Rovig and how well she can see the floor. She surprises me when she gets it to me sometimes down low. I didn’t even know I was open and she’ll get it to me.”

The Lions shot 61 percent from the field on 39 of 64 shooting. Defensively, Ryan held the Panthers to 34 percent shooting.

“We saw the court really well tonight,” senior guard Maddie Lipp said. “We had a lot of patience and it started on defense. We get our spark from defense.”

Lipp was one of three players to come off the bench and add to the score sheet. Lipp led the bench with five points and sophomore Sheyenne Schmidt and junior Lexie Kroeger added baskets.

“When you can develop a lot of weapons, it’s just going to make us stronger,” Julie Stewart said.

The Lions host Dunseith on Friday and Rugby travels to Des Lacs-Burlington on Monday. Both games start at 7:15 p.m.

Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.