The Vegas oddsmakers would’ve dubbed Bishop Ryan a 50-point favorite for Monday night’s District 12 tournament championship game at Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Never say never, but third-seeded Berthold needed more than a stroke of luck to pull off an upset for the ages over the top-ranked Lions.
Instead, No. 1 Ryan delivered once again, hammering the Bombers 81-27 to secure its third consecutive district tourney title, 51st straight win and 17th in a row by 40-plus points.
Ryan (22-0) hasn’t lost to a District 12 opponent in three years. Senior guard Anika Rovig and junior forwards Gabbie Bohl and Hannah Stewart have been mainstays during that three-year reign.
The Lions trio turned in routine performances against the Bombers (14-8). Rovig had 10 points and dished out five assists and Bohl had 18 points and nine rebounds. Two nights removed from her triple-double against Des Lacs-Burlington, Stewart tallied 14 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. The monotony of those numbers night in and night out hasn’t lost its appeal on Rovig.
“It’s still a good feeling (winning the district tournament),” Rovig said. “Throughout the years, it’s been a really fun process – seeing the team and everybody grow each and every year. That’s nice to see that after all those years and all those practices that it still pays off and we still get the same outcome every year.”
After a sluggish start in their semifinal rout over DL-B, the Lions came out firing on all cylinders. Ryan scored eight of the first 10 points and led 42-14 at the break. In the first four minutes of each quarter, the Lions outscored Berthold 41-9.
“We want to be ready to go at the beginning of a game, at the beginning of a quarter, at the beginning of a half,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said.
Bohl had 17 of her 18 points in the first half, before picking up her fourth foul in the third quarter and sitting the rest of the way.
Junior guard Maddie Wald poured in six of her 14 points in the final minutes before halftime as Ryan closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run. Over the final 4:10 of the half, Berthold went 0-for-5 and committed three of its 26 turnovers.
“They have been here before, so maybe they’re a little more confident,” Stewart said. “It’s always exciting, though. Anytime you can play basketball the right way, they enjoy it and they enjoy each other.
Rovig produced three of her five helpers in the third quarter, including a nifty dime that found Hannah Stewart for an uncontested layup in the midst of a 16-1 run.
A four-year starter and an all-state selection last year, Rovig was named the district’s outstanding senior athlete.
“Every coach in the country loves to have a true point guard,” Julie Stewart said. “They’re not easy to come by. She’s such a floor general for us. She distributes the ball so nicely. It’s been great to have her and she truly deserves that award.”
Said Rovig: “Recognition is always nice to receive, but I couldn’t do it without my teammates. Hannah and Gabbie, all of my girls that come off the bench, I get my assists from them.”
Berthold’s region tournament berth is its first in five years, according to Bombers coach Kayla Lambrecht. The Bombers hadn’t appeared in a district championship game in more than 20 years.
Despite the lopsided margin of defeat, Berthold improved markedly on its first meeting with Ryan, a 91-19 loss.
“This game was 10 times better than the first time we played them,” Lambrecht said. “Our defense has definitely picked up and I think we limited Hannah and Gabbie’s touches in the inside as much as we could.”
The Lions shot 55 percent from the field – including a 7-for-10 display from 3-point range – and outrebounded Berthold 38-18. Ryan is six wins away from becoming the fourth team in history to claim consecutive Class B titles.
“I think we’ve established a level of expectation in how we play and standards in what we do,” Julie Stewart said.
Up next for Ryan is a Region 6 quarterfinal matchup against Sawyer on Monday. Berthold will face Bottineau in its region opener.
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.