Knights stun Bishop Ryan, advance to District 12 championship
Zachary Hendrickson is only a freshman on paper.
The young Knight grew before everyone’s eyes on Saturday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium as he willed No. 5-seeded Our Redeemer’s to a 52-51 upset win over No. 1-seeded Bishop Ryan in the semifinals of the District 12 boys basketball tournament.
The victory is just the latest chapter in the Knights’ epic postseason run that features two lower-seeded victories. It’s a run many were quick to rule out, but Our Redeemer’s didn’t let the skeptics get in its way.
“We said before the game ‘Why not us?'” ORCS head coach Brody Bosch said. “All year, you could see it building up. We kept on getting better and better, and we definitely were at the top of our game tonight. It was all effort and heart.”
After battling tooth and nail with the Lions for three and a half quarters, the Knights found themselves deadlocked at 44 with 4:30 left in regulation.
That’s when Hendrickson went ballistic. The freshman gave his team the two-point lead with a mid-range jumper that just got past the outstretched Ryan defender and found the bottom of the rim.
But the Lions responded with a quick 6-0 run. The highlight came at the three-minute mark when sophomore Jaxon Feller hit the deck for a loose ball and dished it to Mason Hedberg in the open space. The senior did the rest, going coast to coast for the layup.
Now trailing 50-46 with 2:09 left in regulation, the Knights called a timeout to regroup. Bosch’s message to his team was simple.
“(Bosch said) ‘Believe in yourself,'” Hendrickson said. “We knew we could do it, and we wanted it.”
Hendrickson delivered on the very next play with a smooth layup from the baseline to slash the deficit in half. After both teams exchanged misses, the freshman came through with the biggest play of his career.
With the shot clock expiring and his team trailing 50-48 with 33 seconds left, Hendrickson called for the ball. He caught it at the top of the arc, set his feet and launched a prayer as he got knocked to the ground by his defender.
The ball soared the air and found its target, making a clean swish sound as it fell through the rim for the four-point play. Although he missed the free throw, the epic shot capped off a personal 9-0 run and gave the Knights a 51-50 lead.
“Shots were falling, I guess,” Hendrickson said. “My teammates knew it and they got me open looks. Thanks to my teammates.”
The game was far from over, though, as Ryan’s Ben Bohl attacked the rim on the next play and got the foul call with 18 seconds remaining. After making the first one to tie the game at 51, the senior’s second attempt rimmed out.
Looking for the game-winning bucket, the Knights got the ball down low to sophomore Levi Weekley with three seconds left. Weekley went up strong and drew the foul, sending him to the line for two shots.
Just like Bohl, Weekley drained the first freebie but missed the second. This time, Our Redeemer’s junior Landon Lang hauled in the rebound and quickly got fouled, giving him a one-and-one at the line.
Lang missed the free throw, but it didn’t matter. The Lions snagged the offensive board and were unable to get a shot off before the buzzer. The Knights had done it.
Lang and Weekley each finished with 11 points, while Hendrickson recorded a game-high 18 points in a win where the freshman played well beyond his years.
“He’s a freshman, like are you kidding me?” Bosch said. “I get to work with that for three more years, and I couldn’t be happier. I told him that come tournament time you have to be a big dog, and tonight he was a big dog.”
Bohl tallied 17 points in the losing effort, while fellow senior Chinaza Udekwe and Hedberg scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The loss sends the Lions to a region qualifier match against No. 2-seeded Lewis & Clark-Berthold on Monday at 5:30 p.m. in a battle many expected would take place in the championship game.
“We just need to show up and play,” Ryan head coach Jeremy Feller said. “We need to do what we did to win 17 games. Unfortunately we’re going to play Berthold… but we need to show up and do the little things right.”
For the Knights, they’ll face No. 3-seeded Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood on Monday at 7 p.m. for the coveted District 12 title.
“We want it bad,” Hendrickson said. “This game (against Ryan) was just the beginning.”
Also emerging victorious on Saturday was No. 4-seeded Des Lacs-Burlington. After taking a slim 30-25 lead over No. 8-seeded South Prairie into halftime, the Lakers pulled away in the final two quarters to claim a 69-47 win.
With the game still up for grabs in the third quarter, DLB’s Dante Gunville took over.
The junior splashed a pair of triples in what was a personal eight-point quarter to help give the Lakers a comfortable 49-37 edge entering the final frame. DLB kept rolling in the fourth quarter to earn the 69-47 win.
“I feel like I’m a leader on this team,” Gunville said. “I feel like I have to get the team going sometimes when we’re slow, so I just try to come out with a good mindset.”
South Prairie’s Tanner Mosser finished with a team-high 14 points, and fellow junior Hayden Gibney recored eight points. Gunville scored a game-high 19 points for DLB, while junior Jacob Burleson posted 16 points and senior Brayden Bonn added 13 points.
The Lakers now advance to a Region Qualifier game against No. 7-seeded Glenburn on Monday at 4 p.m.
“We feel like we have a second chance here,” DLB head coach Tyler Ystaas said. “We’re going to regroup, reload and prepare for (Glenburn).”
The second loser-out match of the day saw a matchup between No. 2-seeded Lewis & Clark-Berthold defeat No. 6-seeded Surrey.
Even the loss of a couple teeth couldn’t keep Berthold’s Tommy Burke from dominating the contest. The senior rebounded from a hard fall that knocked out his two front teeth in the second quarter and still finished with a game-high 22 points to lead the Bombers to a 64-42 win.
“I’ve just been working hard for this my whole life, “ Burke said. “There was no holding back because if we lost we were going home and that was the end of our season, so we just kept going. It was a great team win.”
Burke came out on fire to start the contest, scoring 13 points as Berthold claimed a commanding 20-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Mustangs managed to trim the deficit to 14 points in the third quarter but were unable to get any closer en route to the 64-42 loss. Junior Conner Dyke led Surrey with 10 points, while junior Ryder Holien scored seven points.
Berthold had four players reach double-digit scoring in the win: Burke (22), freshman Patrick Simons (14), senior Cole Erickson (11) and sophomore Walker Wold (10).
The win keeps the Bombers’ season alive as they advance to face No. 1-seeded Bishop Ryan on Monday at 5:30 p.m. with a trip to the Region 6 tournament on the line.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” Berthold head coach Christopher Brown said. “We came out and played Bomber basketball. This time of year it’s all about survive and advance, so we live to play another day.”
Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.