Bishop Ryan basketball dismantles Bottineau in Region 6 opening round, 87-34

Justin Martinez/MDN Bishop Ryan sophomore Jaxon Feller launches a mid-range floater during the Lions’ 87-34 win over Bottineau on Monday in the opening round of the Region 6 boys basketball tournament at the Minot State Dome.

Seeding is just a number.

For the first time all postseason, the Bishop Ryan boys basketball team entered as the lower seed in its matchup. But the No. 3-seeded Lions out of District 12 didn’t let that hold them back one bit as they pounced on District 11’s No. 2-seeded Bottineau from the opening tip and cruised to a convincing 87-34 win Monday in the opening round of the Region 6 tournament.

“It was nice to see us show up and compete from the start,” Ryan head coach Jeremy Feller said. “We weren’t too impressed with our performance (at the district tournament), so we came out with something to prove. The kids are hungry.”

After the Braves got on the board first with a layup from Milan Davis, Ryan quickly rebounded with an 8-0 run that featured three different scorers and forced Bottineau to burn an early timeout.

The brief stoppage of play did little good for the Braves, though, as Mason Hedberg went on a rampage shortly afterwards.

Now leading 15-5, the senior guard pulled up from the right shoulder and drained a triple. Instead of walking back on defense, Hedberg pressed, got the steal and finished at the rim with a silky finger roll layup.

Two possessions later, the senior got fouled from deep and calmly sank all three freebies to cap off a personal 10-0 run and give the Lions a 23-5 lead with 2:12 on the clock. Ryan kept attacking and ultimately ended the opening quarter with a commanding 33-8 lead.

“I thought we played really well defensively, and it really led to our good looks on offense,” Hedberg said. “Our mentality was just to put them in the dirt right away.”

Ben Bohl kept the hot streak going in the second quarter as the senior kicked off the frame with an and-one layup followed by a long-range bomb on the next possession.

Also making his presence known was Jaxon Feller. After draining his second triple earlier in the quarter, the sophomore attacked the rim with 27 seconds left and finished despite being fouled. Feller knocked down the free throw, giving Ryan a 58-14 lead at halftime.

“We shot really well in the first half,” Jaxon Feller said. “It’s not every night that I get to shoot that well. But, when I can, I like to help my team out.”

The Braves recorded their first and only double-digit quarter in the third frame thanks in part to Ethan Hahn. The senior broke free for six points, but Ryan still went into the fourth quarter with a 79-25 edge.

With the running clock in affect, the Lions emptied their bench and gave their starters some key rest en route to the 87-34 victory.

“It’s really important just to get that rest because we have three games in four days,” Hedberg said. “It’s also really good for the younger guys to get in and get some looks.”

Bottineau’s Bailey Burcham recorded 15 points and eight rebounds in the loss, while Hahn finished with 12 points.

For the Lions, Bohl led the charge with a game-high 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Hedberg added 23 points, and Jaxon Feller dropped 15 points. With the win, Ryan advances to the semifinals to take on District 12’s No. 1-seeded Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood today at 6 p.m. with a spot in the championship game on the line.

The Lions will be looking to repeat their success from the two teams’ regular-season matchup on Feb. 11, where Ryan defeated MLS on the road by a score of 74-61.

“We have to show up with the same mentality,” Jeremy Feller said. “Tonight we’ll watch our Mohall (regular season) game and try to find a way to keep that defensive mentality going.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.