A Bohl-d strategy

Bishop Ryan breaks Mavericks’ trap defense to return to Region 6 title game

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN Bishop Ryan senior Ben Bohl (3) rises up for a 3-pointer Tuesday against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood in the Region 6 tournament semifinals at the Minot State Dome.

Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood wasn’t going to let Ben Bohl beat them again.

Bohl was harassed and double teamed every time he touched the ball Tuesday evening in the Region 6 tournament semifinals at the Minot State Dome.

The trap defense, however, wasn’t going to stop Bohl or the Bishop Ryan boys basketball team.

The senior still managed to score a game-high 18 points to lead the reigning regional champion Lions (21-3) to a 61-52 victory over the District 12 champion MLS Mavericks (17-7) for a spot in the Region 6 championship game.

“Teams look and want to double me and Mason (Hedberg) because we are kind of the main guys,” Bohl said. “But, at the end of the day, you got to fight through adversity. You got to find a way to score and help your teammates out. Look for your teammates and get them to score to relieve some of the pressure off yourself. I think that’s what we did tonight and came out with a win.”

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN MLS senior Isaac Undlin throws down a dunk against Bishop Ryan Tuesday in Minot.

Double teaming Bohl isn’t a new concept. The Lions had seen this before, multiple times.

“We have to be a little more patient,” Ryan head coach Jeremy Feller said. “I’m sure we will see it again. We have been preparing for it all week. We expected that and different zones to be thrown at us. Our pregame practices take like three times longer this year than last year because last year we would review one thing. This year, we have to prepare for four or five different zone defenses.”

Bohl shot 5-for-8 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers. He had to do most of damage in transition to prevent the Mavericks from surrounding him. Holding Bohl to 18 points was considered a job well done for MLS head coach Brian Olson.

“(Our defense) definitely paid off,” Olson said. “(Bohl) had 38 points against us the first time we played. So, that’s 20 less than last time. We thought if we could limit him, then we could ourselves in the game better than we did the first time around. It worked like we wanted it to, but other kids on their team stepped up too. So, credit to them.”

On defense, Bohl and fellow senior sharpshooter Mason Hedberg traded the task of guarding MLS senior Isaac Undlin. The 6-foot-5 senior finished with a double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds).

“(Undlin) is a special player,” Feller said. “We did well against him a few times by staying down. I don’t know how you lose him. Everybody should know where he is on the floor.”

Hedberg, who also ended up with 17 points, only scored six points in the first half — a 3-pointer for Ryan’s first points and then another triple to end the second quarter.

The Lions trailed 10-9 after the first quarter, but took a 32-25 lead into halftime.

“It was execution,” Bohl said. “We have a little bit more experience than they do. But it came down to just playing basketball and outexecuting them.”

Five quick points from Lucas Undlin and a bucket by Adam Southam had MLS down two points, 34-32, two minutes into the third quarter. That’s as close as the Mavericks got to getting back even.

A pull-up 3-pointer by Hedberg — in the middle of an 8-0 run — gave Ryan a double-digit lead at 44-34.

Yet, MLS continued to fight back. Isaac Undlin knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in an 8-0 run for MLS to get back within three points, 47-44.

“It was a game of ebbs and flows,” Olson said. “Maybe we weren’t aggressive enough the whole game. But, I’m super happy with how we played at both ends of the floor.”

Still trailing by three points with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, 54-51, the Mavericks missed two potential game-tying 3-pointers. They had gone cold from the floor at the wrong time and didn’t make another field goal for the rest of the game.

At the other end, Jaxon Feller came up with a critical offensive rebound off a shot missed by Hedberg and Chinaza Udekwe finished a tough runner in the lane on the extra possession.

With Bohl always getting trapped, Udekwe was entrusted to handle the ball more and delivered with 14 points.

“(Ryan) got a few offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter that if we could have secured them, maybe that makes the difference,” Olson said. “Maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. Ryan is a very good team… We executed our game plan exactly like we wanted to and they still beat us. Credit to them.”

Bohl and Hedberg sunk free throws down the stretch to ice the game away, 61-52.

Lucas Undlin chipped in 11 points, while Southam and Henry Savelkoul each had eight points for MLS. The Mavericks shot 39.6 percent from the floor compared to Ryan’s 38.8 percent.

“We were probably the most improved team in the region from the start of the year to the end of the year,” Olson said. “That was one of our goals. I’m super happy our seniors got to play in a regional tournament and had an opportunity to get to a regional championship.”

District 12 No. 3-seeded Ryan returns to the regional championship game on Thursday against in-city rival Our Redeemer’s. The ORCS Knights upset Ryan in the District 12 semifinals, 52-51, on Feb. 23.

“It would be nice to get another swing at Our Redeemer’s after the district game,” said Jeremy Feller, who was the head coach at ORCS before taking over at Ryan two years ago. “I truly feel like that (loss) helped wake us up a little bit. Hopefully, that’s the motivation we need to push through to the end.”

Bohl added: “We kind of chocked at districts, but that’s all right. We just have to win three games here and get to state. We are looking forward to Thursday. We are ready to bring it.”

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