Thompson rattles Ryan 63-37 in Nakatani’s debut

Alex Eisen/MDN Bishop Ryan senior McKinlee Harmon drives to the basket in the Lions season opener against Thompson Friday night at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Miscues and miscommunication plagued the Bishop Ryan girls basketball team in its season opener against Thompson Friday night in the Shootout on the Prairie invitational at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

The Tommies (1-0) had 10 players score to pick up 63-37 victory over the Lions (0-1), as April Nakatani made her debut as the new Ryan head coach.

“(I was) a little nervous, definitely,” the first-year head coach said. “But, I believe in these girls and being a part of this program for the last 5-6 years, I have coached each one of them. I know what they are capable of and I know what team we can be. This basically showed us where we stand and what we need to do to improve and get better throughout the season.”

On paper, this was going to be a tough test for the Lions.

Thompson finished with a 22-5 record last season, placed second in the Region 2 regular season and lost to Park River-FL in the regional championship game. The Tommies returned All-Region forwards Taylor Zak and Kailen Dolleslager.

The duo dismantled Ryan on the boards and in the paint Friday evening. Dolleslager had a match-high 14 points.

“We had a pretty deep rotation tonight,” Thompson coach Jason Brend said. “It’s early in the year and want to see who is going to be players for us and who is not. Overall, we are happy with everybody contributing.”

Ryan senior guard McKinlee Harmon scored the Lions’ first points of the season on a layup right off the opening tip-off won by sophomore Emma Passa. But, two quick fouls in the first 2:39 of the contest sent Harmon to the bench.

Passa and Harmon led the Lions in scoring with 10 and nine points, respectively.

The Tommies opened a 17-8 advantage on a 3-pointer by Brittney Munson and a pair of baskets by Carrie Nistler. A successful three-point play by Passa with five seconds left in the opening quarter had Ryan down 17-11 after the first eight minutes.

Thompson extended its lead to 32-24 going into halftime despite Passa, Savanah Brintnell and Nora Kramer making 3-pointers in the second quarter.

On the opposite side of the court, the Tommies were unselfishly distributing the ball around with six different players scoring their six baskets in the quarter.

Thompson’s Mackenzie Hughes capped the first half with a steal and easy fast break layup.

“I love the intensity that we showed in the first half,” Nakatani said. “It’s just little minor bumps on the road that we can easily adjust. Tedious things that we can fix.”

A 12-4 run by Thompson in the first four and a half minutes of the third quarter forced Ryan into a timeout. The Lions reached the Tommies halftime total of 32 points on a 3-pointer by Brintnell, but it was answered on a banked in 3-pointer at the quarter buzzer by Hughes to give Thompson a 48-32 lead through three.

Brintnell had eight points, as did Macy Jordheim and Allie Ness for Thompson.

“We put a little full-court pressure on them with our two little scats and let them cause a little damage,” Brend said about his quick guards. “They got a couple of cheap ones for us and it kind of snowballed from there. At the same time, I thought Bishop Ryan did a good job of fighting back in there and we couldn’t shake them for a long time.”

Ryan was held to five points in the fourth quarter, as Thompson closed out the 63-37 victory.

The two-day invitational at the Minot Municipal Auditorium continues throughout today. Bishop Ryan will face New Town at 6:30 p.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.