FARGO - Bishop Ryan's last 22 opponents know all too well that the Lions' 64-45 victory over No. 6 Lakota-Edmore on Thursday evening can hardly be dubbed a blowout.
The top-ranked Lions (26-0) entered the Class B state tournament with 54 consecutive wins, with the last 22 coming by 30 points or more. Some came by more than 70 points, others "just" in the 30-point range; but none of them close.
In its state quarterfinal win at the Fargodome, Ryan stretched its lead past 20 points only three times. The 19-point margin of victory is the most narrow since Dec. 19, when it beat the Raiders 72-57 despite senior Fallyn Freije's career-high 45-point effort.
Bishop Ryan junior forward Gabbie Bohl shoots over Lakota-Edmore’s Shaye Ronningen on Thursday at the Fargodome. Bohl tallied 22 points and 11 rebounds in the Lions’ Class B state tournament quarterfinal win.
Bishop Ryan sophomore Sheyenne Schmidt swiped two of the Lions’ 17 steals.
"It's a little weird having people close to us, but it really pushes us and we know that we have to play our best game to win," Ryan junior guard Maddie Wald said. "These teams (state tournament opponents) make us do that."
It's been 12 months since Ryan capped its undefeated 2012-13 season with a state championship. Two wins shy of tying the all-time consecutive wins record - including six straight at the state tournament - and the Lions still endured nervous butterflies before advancing to tonight's 8:15 semifinal against No. 8 Central Cass.
"We were all pretty nervous before the game since (Lakota-Edmore) is one of the teams that was really close to us during the season," Wald said. "Now that we have the first round done with, I think we're going to be more excited than nervous."
The Raiders (18-7) fell behind 8-2 and then 26-8, but still remained close enough to make Ryan sweat.
Ryan junior forward Hannah Stewart poured in 12 of her game-high 25 points in the first half to stake the Lions out to a 33-17 halftime lead.
Stewart finished with nine rebounds and three nifty assists to classmate Gabbie Bohl, who added 22 points and 11 rebounds. Stewart and Bohl, both 6-foot-2, efficiently worked the high-low, pulling Freije out of the paint and leaving the Raiders helpless in defense of the lob pass.
"We rushed a little bit," Ryan coach Julie Stewart said of her team's offense, which committed 16 turnovers. "When we didn't rush, we allowed the ball to move a little bit and got some high-low action.
"The high-low is very hard to guard when you have people who understand how to work off of each other and how to space."
Freije carried the Raiders with 19 points and nine rebounds. She tallied 12 points after halftime and had Lakota-Edmore within 14 points of the lead early in the fourth quarter, but received little help from her supporting cast.
This go-round, Ryan was prepared for the 6-foot junior. The 5-5 Wald, who had game highs of six assists and five steals, dogged Freije most of the night.
"Maddie took her most of the game and I thought helped get her out of a rhythm," Julie Stewart said. "We just wanted to make sure that we didn't let the ball into her hands, and if she got it, we wanted to get it out of her hands."
Shaye Ronningen also finished in double figures for Lakota-Edmore with 10 points. The Raiders tallied 25 turnovers, flustered by Ryan's aggressive defense, which had 17 steals.
"Tonight you could tell we just couldn't (relax)," Lakota-Edmore coach Duane Connell said. "We tried firing them up, relaxing them, getting them settled in, and we just couldn't relax tonight. That was the biggest thing."
The Raiders play Watford City at 2:45 p.m. today in a consolation semifinal.
No. 7 Beach 56,
No. 2 Thompson 48
Sure, No. 12 seeds North Dakota State and Harvard kicked off the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament with some nice upset wins Thursday. But Beach pulled off an upset that just may trump both.
The unseeded and seventh-ranked Buccaneers rallied from a 19-point, second-half deficit to knock off No. 2 Thompson. The Tommies entered the Class B state tournament with 23 consecutive wins.
Beach senior guard Bailey Waldal poured in a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Hailee Farstveet added a double-double of 15 points and 10 boards and Cyndi Stedman scored 16 points.
Karleigh Weber (15), Shannon Galegher (11) and Bethany Ivesdal (11) were Thompson's double-figure scorers. Galegher snared a team-high 11 rebounds, as well.
Beach plays No. 3 Shiloh Christian at 6:30 tonight in the semifinals, while Thompson faces Kidder County in a 1 p.m. consolation semifinal.
No. 3 Shiloh 55, Kidder County 36
The third-ranked Skyhawks clamped down defensively and breezed into the semifinals.
Junior Regan Watson led all scorers with 18 points. Teammates Gabby Wilkinson (13) and Jaye Two Bears (10) also finished in double figures. Wilkinson notched 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Sadie Rohrich paced Kidder County with 12 points.
Shiloh Christian can punch a ticket to the state championship with a win over No. 7 Beach in today's 6:30 p.m. semifinal. Kidder County will play No. 2 Thompson at 1 p.m. in the early consolation semifinal.
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.