There's much more than just bragging rights on the line when the Bishop Ryan boys basketball team hosts Our Redeemer's Christian School tonight at 7:15 in the District 12 finale for both.
For the Lions (12-4 overall, 4-2 district), it's about avenging a 56-34 defeat at the hands of their crosstown rival last season at ORCS. It was Ryan's first loss against the Knights and also one of its worst losses of the season. It was also former coach Scott Medalen's final game with the Lions.
"We're all looking to get back at them for that one," Bishop Ryan senior guard Brody Bosch said. "It's kind of a revenge game, you could say."
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Brody Bosch (22) and Bishop Ryan host Nick Stenvold and Our Redeemer’s tonight in the District 12 finale for both teams.
For the Knights (15-3, 5-1), there's history to be made. A win against the Lions will set the program record for wins in a season - set last year - and will lock up the No. 2 seed, which would also be another first for ORCS.
Now that the Knights have tasted victory against Ryan, they hope to complete another long-time objective that's eluded them.
"It's always been one of our goals to beat Bishop Ryan on their home court, so we're excited and we're going to bring it," ORCS senior guard Micah Jacobsen said.
BISHOP RYAN LIONS
(11-4 overall, 4-2 district)
Points per game: 69.2
Points allowed per game: 51.4
Brody Bosch, Sr., G21.5 ppg
Nick Berentson, Sr., G5.9 ppg
Austin Eggl, Sr., G6.7 ppg
Jake Magnuson, Sr., G3.7 ppg
Jared Will, Jr., C13.7 ppg
(15-3 overall, 5-1 district)
Points per game: 65.7
Points allowed per game: 54
Micah Jacobsen, Sr., G11.7 ppg
Nick Stenvold, Sr., G7.5 ppg
Josh VanLith, So., G9.2 ppg
Davis Koppinger, Jr., F17.4 ppg
Ben Talley, So., C6.6 ppg
Rivalry aside, both teams are more concerned about the implications the game presents in the district standings than the opponent itself. A Ryan victory, coupled with a Berthold win at Glenburn, would create a three-way tie for second place.
"It's a big game in our district," Ryan coach Brock Teets said. "What happened last year happened last year and I don't think it's going to have much effect. I think our kids will be motivated. Obviously, we need this win in the district and hopefully we come ready to play and show up. It's going to be a high-energy game."
Teets had success against the Knights in his five years with Berthold, winning eight of nine meetings. ORCS defeated the then-No. 6 Bombers 78-74 in Berthold earlier this year. ORCS coach Jeremy Feller said he sees a lot of Berthold in Ryan.
"You have to get out on their 3-point shooters, you have to defend and can't give up second chances," he said. "That sounds like a common basketball philosophy, but against good teams you have to keep the game simple. You can't let them have simple baskets. Everything has to be a tough shot."
Bosch is one of several Lions who are accurate from behind the arc. The senior guard is averaging 21.5 points per game and has eclipsed the 30-point mark three times and scored at least 20 in 11 contests. Senior Austin Eggl and sophomore Tyler Daws are also threats from distance.
The Knights have a sizable advantage in the paint, but they prefer to take advantage of their speed. ORCS gets out in transition whenever possible, pushing tempo and wearing down opponents. Junior forward Davis Koppinger and Jacobsen are the Knights' top scorers at 17.4 and 11.7 points per game, respectively.
"We just have to do a good job of keeping somebody back and not allowing that quick outlet pass," Teets said. "Our Redeemer's likes to run. We just have to get back and stop the ball in transition, force the ball away from the basket."
One way to hold ORCS' transition offense in check is to win the battle on the glass, a tall order for the undersized Lions. Ryan junior forward Jared Will (6-foot-4) needs to limit Koppinger (6-2), and sophomore's John Reiten (6-6) and Ben Talley (6-4) on the boards.
It may be just a regular-season contest, but it projects to have a playoff atmosphere.
"It's going to be a full house, it's going to be loud and it's going to be a fun place to play," Feller said. "There's going to be a lot on the line. If we lose we could drop as low as 4 and if we win we get a 2 (seed). Ryan could move up a spot or two, so both of us are playing for some big seeding."
Said Bosch: "It's going to be a big one with the seeding. In the district, the top four teams are very evenly matched. It's going to be a good one."
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.