New reality for rivalry

Feller bests former team, No. 3 Ryan upends ORCS

Garrick Hodge/MDN Bishop Ryan’s Jacob Lizotte (50) takes a fadeaway jumper while being guarded by Our Redeemer’s Greyson Olthoff (42) Tuesday at a boys high school basketball game at ORCS.

A season ago, Jeremy Feller and Mark LaCroix were game planning against their current team. How quickly things can change and come full circle.

In a much-anticipated District 12 crosstown clash Tuesday between No. 3-ranked Bishop Ryan and Our Redeemer’s, both coaches had to face their most recent pasts – Feller, the former head coach at ORCS, and LaCroix, a former assistant coach at Ryan – before establishing this new reality for this longstanding rivalry.

An emotional evening ensued and ended with the Lions (11-2) stifling the Knights (9-2) for a 66-45 road victory in front of a lively crowd at ORCS.

“It’s fun to be in these games and fun to have a full house in Minot. I enjoyed it,” Feller said about his return. “I wish every game we could pack a gym like this… We talked about not letting the atmosphere affect us and feeding off it. Whether it was them cheering or us cheering, just use that as our energy.”

Playing off the crowd noise, a combination of ORCS nerves and intense defensive pressure had Ryan holding a slim 6-0 lead early on. Ryan prevented the Knights from scoring in the first five minutes of the game.

Garrick Hodge/MDN Bishop Ryan coach Jeremy Feller calls out a play Tuesday.

The Lions were locked in.

“I told the kids before the game, ‘I can tell you have that look in your eye from last night’s loss.’ So, I knew something special was going to happen today,” Feller said. “It was one of the better defensive games that we have played in a while.”

The night prior, Ryan had lost to Dunseith on the road, 75-66.

“I told them even before we lost that I hope we don’t have to lose to wake up,” Feller said. “I think the Bottineau (loss) didn’t wake us up because it was too close (58-57) and we felt like we gave it away. (Monday) night they were mad and it carried over into today. If we win last night, I’m not sure we have this same team show up today. So, I’ll take a non-district loss to show up and play like this any day.”

Late in the first quarter, senior guard Noah Abel connected on a jumper to get ORCS back within two points at 10-8.

Garrick Hodge/MDN Bishop Ryan’s Mason Hedberg (5) drives to the line as ORCS’ Matthew Hendrickson (11) defends him Tuesday.

But, Ryan junior guard Ben Bohl gathered his own miss off the glass and deposited it into the basket in one fluent motion to give Ryan a 12-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bohl was just getting started and went on to score a game-high 25 points.

The Lions pulled away for good in the second quarter, as the Knights just couldn’t settle into the vigorous flow of the game.

Turnovers proved to be costly, as Bohl and Mason Hedberg raced down to the other end of the court for easy layups, and missed shots were also deflating for the Knights. Ryan outscored ORCS 21-5 in the second quarter.

Ryan’s bench let loose after Hedberg knocked down a triple to force an ORCS timeout with the score at 27-11. The Lions used a 13-2 run to close out the first half. Hedberg dropped 11 points in the first 16 minutes and finished with 16 in total.

“January has been rough for us,” Feller said. “I think we kind of got too satisfied when we were ranked No. 1 (in the state) and then we came out flat, weren’t smiling and weren’t having fun. Where is my December team that came into the timeouts smiling? We were down in December, but still calm, collected and having fun. It was nice to see that back today. This is the first time since the 30th of December that we looked like ourselves again.”

Bohl drilled a 3-pointer at the top of the arc to put Ryan up 33-13 at halftime.

“I don’t think it was so much the atmosphere,” LaCroix said. “The kids came in fired up too much. I think we shot 27 percent for the game. That to me says we were too fired up. We needed to slow it down. As a coach, I could have addressed it a little bit better for the kids. But, we will make adjustments. This is a learning experience. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

An uncanny triple from Ryan forward Chris Sowitch had the Knights looking up at a 24-point deficit, 40-16. Then, to start the fourth quarter, Bohl showed off his playmaking abilities with a behind the back dribble to start a transition break and finished it off with a Euro step finish, which also drew a foul.

Things were bleak for ORCS, but the Knights didn’t go down quietly.

ORCS doubled its scoring output in the fourth quarter (23) compared to the other three quarters combined (22). The scoring touch of Greyson Olthoff and Leyton Lang, each with six points after three quarters, had finally rubbed off on the rest of the Knights.

“We played with more intensity and we also calmed down,” LaCroix said. “The first three quarters, we were kind of sped up. We were a little too over-amped for the game. We slowed things down and ran our sets a little better.”

Matthew Hendrickson scored all seven of his points for the Knights in the fourth quarter before fouling out. Hedberg also fouled out with 4:16 remaining.

Lang led the Knights with 12 points, followed by Hendrickson, Abel and Jayden Wetzel with seven points apiece.

Bohl scored 12 points for Ryan in the fourth quarter alone. Anthony Vetter also contributed eight points for the Lions in the 66-45 win.

“It’s tough to lose a game like this,” LaCroix said. “It’s a fun atmosphere and at the end of the game, yeah, we ended up losing pretty big. But, at the same time, you still shake those kids’ hands and you recognize that they are still good people over there. I got to work with all of those kids over there. It’s a tough loss.

“I want to see them again.”

A potential rematch would only occur in the postseason.

Both teams are back in action 7 p.m. Friday, as ORCS travels over to Glenburn and Ryan takes on Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

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