It looked like a rejuvenated Bishop Ryan boys basketball team Thursday, playing its first game under coach Brock Teets in its newly refinished gymnasium.
The Lions pushed the tempo on offense, clamped down defensively with their full-court man-to-man pressure and owned the glass on both ends in a convincing 85-34 victory against Sawyer.
Ryan (1-0) started quick, scoring the first eight points of the game. Senior guard Brody Bosch registered six points in the opening eight minutes and freshman guard Eli Stewart hit his first 3-point attempt at the varsity level. The Lions broke the game open with an 11-0 run to extend their lead to 19 midway through the second period.
Bishop Ryan junior Jared Will drives around Sawyer senior Kris Hochsprung during the Lions’ victory Thursday at Ryan.
"We definitely emphasize our defense," Bosch said. "We're a lot more worried about that because if our defense comes out, we'll get our points on offense."
Ryan's full-court pressure stymied the Flashes (0-2), who had trouble getting the ball across the center stripe. Sawyer coach Shawn Storseth burned four of his five timeouts in the first half in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Junior Colton Lund netted 22 points for the Flashes, but the rest of the team combined for just 12.
All 15 players for the Lions saw playing time. Their 10 bench players accounted for 33 points, led by Stewart, who scored nine points with three 3s.
"We had a good team win and everybody played hard," Stewart said. "First game out I thought we played pretty well. We can always get better. We're always working hard every day."
Teets said he liked what he saw in his first game at the helm, but there's still much work to be done.
"We're a work in progress," he said. "We're not there yet, but I thought tonight we did some nice things in transition. I though we rebounded the ball pretty well. We got some work to do there, but we got everybody in the game and I saw some nice things out of some different kids.
"I'm still trying to get acclimated to these kids - how they handle things in game situations. These first few weeks are really going to show me a lot."
The Lions didn't let up in the second half, outscoring Sawyer 20-8 in the third quarter for a 38-point lead. Bosch added 11 points in the frame and finished with 22. Senior guard Austin Eggl also finished in double digits with 10 points - eight coming in the second half.
Ryan's defense never skipped a beat. A relentless pursuit of the basketball led to steals, which transitioned into fast-break layups at the other end. Sawyer scored 10 points or less in all four quarters.
"It's a start," Teets said. "We kind of have an idea of where we need to get to in order to be competitive in this district and region. We have a ways to go but it's a good start. The kids battled tonight and showed up."
Both teams play home games Saturday. The Lions play Watford City at 6 p.m. and the Flashes play Burke County at 7:15 p.m.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.