Bruising rivalry affair

Lions defense, toughness wrecks Knights 63-32

Alex Eisen/MDN Bishop Ryan's Eden Kramer (left) and Grace Candrian (right) fight for a loose ball with Our Redeemer's Karolynn Winger (middle) in a District 12 girls basketball game played Tuesday at Bishop Ryan.

The referees let them play Tuesday evening and allowed two intercity rivals to go right at each other.

In the first District 12 match of the season for both girls basketball teams, Bishop Ryan (3-5) pushed past Our Redeemer’s (3-4) for a dominating 63-32 victory on its home floor.

Both squads came in wanting to snap their three-game losing skids and desperate for a win.

“It’s big and I’m proud of the girls because they didn’t have a letdown after losing the last few games,” Ryan head coach April Nakatani said. “The teams that we have played in the past have prepared us for districts.”

Ryan against ORCS has been a rather lopsided rivalry lately, as the Knights haven’t defeated the Lions since Jan. 7, 2010. Getting another win over the crosstown foe is just that, another win.

Alex Eisen/MDN ORCS senior Karlee Zablotney attempts to get around Bishop Ryan sophomore Emma Passa (34) Tuesday at Bishop Ryan.

“I don’t think so at all,” Nakatani said when asked if this win meant a little more being against ORCS. “Any game should be a big game. We should come in strong, regardless of who we are playing.”

Ryan certainly showed off its strength Tuesday night – much to the dismay of Our Redeemer’s head coach Scott Peterson.

“I felt it got way too physical during this game tonight,” Peterson said. “But, our girls have to play that way too. We got to learn to play that way, if it’s going to be that way.”

High-pressure defense by Ryan allowed them to quickly build up an early advantage. Sophomore Grace Candrian scored the Lions’ first five points and a 3-pointer by senior Eden Kramer concluded the first quarter scoring to give Ryan a comfortable 19-5 cushion.

Ryan sophomore Emma Passa was a force creating turnovers and blocking shots throughout the contest.

“With us being so young and small, I always take pride in defense,” Nakatani said. “Us working and getting after it right away helped us a lot.”

The Knights briefly started to get settled into the game in the second quarter after junior Tessa Olson drained a 3-pointer to cut the deficit down to 19-8. Senior Karlee Zablotney drove to the rim to get ORCS within striking distance going into halftime at 28-18.

Zablotney had 11 points, but struggled to stay on the court in key moments.

“They started hot, we got down and Karlee (Zablotney) got into foul trouble,” Peterson said. “It just seemed like we were behind the eight ball all night long. But, our girls played hard so we can’t hang our heads. When we meet them again, it won’t be this much of a spread.”

Kramer opened the second half with a triple, which was answered by a fast break layup by ORCS senior Karolynn Winger. Then, Lions senior McKinlee Harmon went on an individual 6-0 run that was ended by a jumper from teammate Tatum Leidholt. Harmon put together a rather quiet game-high of 16 points.

The Knights were held to just three points in the third quarter – a made free throw by Tea Boeckel to go with Winger’s layup. Winger had a team-high 12 points for the Knights.

Ryan took a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter, 41-21.

“We just have to get stronger,” Peterson said. “I felt they were more aggressive coming to the ball and stuff like that. We are young, so by the end of the season – we still have 15 games left to play – we just got to keep improving. Get stronger and more confident.”

Passa, a 5-foot-9 guard/forward hybrid, displayed her range with two 3-pointers from the top of the arc in the fourth quarter and made a couple of skillful passes as well.

“I’m very proud of Emma (Passa),” Nakatani said. “She kept her composure. She is young and still trying to figure out her body and holding in her emotions. I’m not trying to take that away from her, but I love that she stepped up as a leader and is only a sophomore. She is preparing the younger girls. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you love basketball or any sport than you give everything that you got.”

Passa finished with 15 points to go with a package of defensive highlights.

“We worked really hard for this win coming off a few losses,” Passa said. “I did OK, but all my teammates helped me score and they really did all the work.”

The final nails in the coffin for the Knights were a pair of fourth quarter 3-pointers by Ryan junior Abbie McKay, fresh off the Lions’ bench.

Candrian ended up with 10 points to give Ryan three double-digit scorers. ORCS only had four players score in the game. The Knights were outscored 22-11 in the fourth to fall by a final score of 63-32.

Bishop Ryan remains at home with a 5:45 p.m. contest Friday against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood.

The Knights are headed over to Bismarck this weekend for the Shiloh Tournament. ORCS will face Dickinson Trinity on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and hosts Shiloh Christian on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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