Top-seeded Ryan holds off battle-tested Mavericks to reach District 12 finals

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN Bishop Ryan junior Mason Hedberg (5) takes a free throw in a District 12 semifinal game against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood Saturday evening at the Minot Auditorium.

Already with an impressive win over Stanley on its resume, the No. 4-seeded Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood boys basketball team took aim at No. 1-seeded, No. 6 state ranked Bishop Ryan in the District 12 semifinals.

The Mavericks (13-8) pushed the Lions (19-2) to their limits, but it wasn’t enough. Ryan pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 60-51 victory at the Minot Auditorium.

“We felt like we took things for granted a little bit,” Ryan coach Jeremy Feller said. “Last time we had more of a lopsided score, and we didn’t show up and compete from the get-go. It took us a while to get moving.”

MLS held a 15-10 lead after the first quarter after 3-pointers fell from seniors Trevor Savelkoul (twice) and Chase Gates.

An 11-0 Ryan run induced by a full-court press in the second quarter saw four different players scoring: senior Chris Sowitch, junior Ben Bohl, senior Anthony Vetter and junior Mason Hedberg.

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood senior Beau Driscoll (20) attacks the rim Saturday evening against Bishop Ryan in Minot.

“Our press, at times, helped when we did it correctly,” Feller said. “Then, we would have mental breakdowns and give them easy buckets.”

The Mavericks settled in and started to break down the press. MLS scored six straight points to take a 26-25 lead into halftime.

“That’s something that has been a spot where we don’t play well,” MLS coach Wally Beckman said. “All year long we have had trouble with the press. But, for the most part tonight, we got a lot better at it. The more we see it, the better we are going to get at it.”

Improving in a pressure situation comes down to making the right passes.

“Decision making,” Beckman said. “We kind of panic a little bit. We have kids that aren’t used to handling the ball.”

Vetter scored seven out of his 15 points in the third quarter, including a jumper before the buzzer, to give Ryan a one-point lead (42-41) heading into the final quarter.

Ryan’s offense adjusted out of halftime.

“Offensively, I think we were a little sluggish,” Feller said. “We settled for way too many jump shots and that’s what we talked about at halftime. We had to get to the rim and get some post touches.

“We looked like an NBA team trying to run the offense. It was a one-man, catch-and-shoot kind of a team. That’s not who we are.”

The intensity of the game was on display when MLS senior Beau Driscoll blocked a fast break layup at one end and Sowitch drew a charge at the other end.

The teams then traded three points without the use of a 3-pointer, as Hedberg made three free throws after getting fouled on a triple and Gates converted a three-point play.

Yet, it was a 3-pointer by Bohl and then Bohl getting fouled on another 3-pointer that allowed Ryan to get away late with a 9-0 run.

Bohl finished with a game-high 25 points.

MLS junior Isaac Undlin scored the final basket to finish tied with Driscoll for a team-high 10 points for the Mavericks.

Beckman believes, with good reason, that the intimation factor of facing a state ranked team had no effect on the Mavericks’ collapse down the stretch.

“I think maybe it did the first time we played them, but this time it didn’t,” Beckman said. “We have beaten some good teams. We have beaten Stanley, played with St. John’s, lost by three to Bottineau and beaten Rugby. I think we can compete with the good teams. We are just inconsistent.”

Ryan heads to the District 12 championship game at roughly 7 p.m. Monday evening against No. 3-seeded Des Lacs-Burlington.

The Lakers upset No. 2-seeded Our Redeemer’s, 62-54, with a harassing half-court defense and timely 3-pointers.

MLS drops to a Region 6 qualifier game earlier in the day at around 5 p.m. against No. 7-seeded Surrey.

The Mustangs overcome a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to stun No. 6-seeded Lewis & Clark-Berthold, 51-50, in a loser-out game on Saturday.

Surrey sophomore Ryder Holien missed a free throw with 14.9 seconds left that would have tied the game, but fellow sophomore teammate Cody Fuchs was right there to clean up the rebound and finished a contested turnaround put back.

Racing down to the other end of the court, Bombers junior Thomas Burke missed an off-balance jumper at the buzzer.

The other regional qualifier will feature ORCS against No. 5-seeded Glenburn at 4 p.m. Monday.

All games to be played at the Municipal Auditorium.

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