Lions headed back to state tournament

The venue may have been different, but the end result was nothing out of the ordinary for the Bishop Ryan girls basketball team.

For the third straight season, the Lions punched their ticket to the Class B state tournament by winning the Region 6 tournament championship. On Thursday, it was in the form of a 57-27 victory over TGU at Magic City Campus.

With the Class A girls state tournament taking over the Minot Municipal Auditorium – the region’s usual venue – the region championship game was moved to Minot High’s home gym. It didn’t seem to slow down the Lions as they scored 22 of the game’s first 23 points.

“These girls have been amazing all year and I’m so proud of them,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “We put in a new defense yesterday and they did such a nice job with it. When you coach a team that truly cares so much about each other and about the process, moments like these are even more special.”

Freshman Angie Anderson made the Titans’ first field goal with 6:56 left in the first half. Before that, junior forwards Gabbie Bohl and Hannah Stewart netted 12 and eight points, respectively. Bohl played sparingly in the second half and finished with 14 points.

“Going to state is obviously so exciting and I’m so proud of my team,” Ryan senior guard Anika Rovig said. “Considering it’s my last year, I wouldn’t want to end it any other way. I’m proud of the way we played and I’m just happy with the win.”

Hannah Stewart’s seventh basket gave the Lions a 35-6 lead late in the first half. She finished with a double-double, tallying 26 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

“They’re certainly an awesome ballclub,” TGU coach Malcolm Marcus said. “They cause a lot of problems for other teams. They’re the best team in the state.”

TGU senior Mattie Schmitt scored her first points with 2:30 left in the half, sparking a 7-0 run that stretched into the third quarter. Schmitt, named the region’s outstanding senior athlete, finished with a team-high seven points.

Ryan’s offense struggled in the second half, scoring 22 points, but its defense didn’t. The Lions forced 37 turnovers and limited the Titans to 28 percent from the field.

“A lot of the time our defense is what gets us the win,” Hannah Stewart said. “It leads to our offense and, I say it over and over, that’s what we take pride in because that’s what leads to our offense.”

The 30-point win was the smallest margin of victory for the Lions since their third game of the season against Lakota-Edmore.

“We did what we needed to do,” Julie Stewart said. “We came in and played with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. Maybe just a little bit rushing on some shots, but all and all I was really happy with the effort.”

Yet, when the final buzzer sounded, clinching Ryan’s spot at state, the Lions weren’t in the mood to celebrate. That’s because the Ryan student section prematurely stormed the court with 1.3 seconds, littering the court with toilet paper and glitter. Ryan’s benched was assessed a technical foul as boos echoed from the TGU faithful. TGU sophomore guard Lizzy Black hit one of two from the line.

The Titans second-place finish was the best in program history.