Bishop Ryan fends off New Rockford-Sheyenne in state quarterfinals, 62-56

Bishop Ryan senior Ben Bohl (3) pulls up for a mid-range jumper during the Lions' 62-56 win over New Rockford-Sheyenne on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class B boys basketball state tournament at the Minot State Dome. Al Christianson/ Special to the MDN

Bend, but don’t break.

That’s the motto No. 4-seeded Bishop Ryan lived by on Thursday in the opening round of the Class B boys basketball state tournament. The Lions placed themselves in the driver’s seat for a majority of the game against No. 5-seeded New Rockford-Sheyenne and withstood every comeback attempt by the Rockets to secure a hard-earned 62-56 victory.

“(New Rockford-Sheyenne) is a tough team,” Ryan head coach Jeremy Feller said. “They can defend, and we were just fortunate that the game didn’t have another six minutes. They kept swinging.”

The Lions pounced on NRS to start the game thanks in part to a spark off the bench from Jaxon Feller.

After drilling a 15-foot shot from the corner on the previous possession, the sophomore guard took a few steps back and knocked down the triple from the same corner to push Ryan’s lead to 10-2 with 2:53 left in the first quarter.

“We need our (role players) to be more aggressive like that at times,” Jeremy Feller said. “To win, we need five or six guys who are willing to play like it’s backyard basketball.”

From there, the Rockets took off.

New Rockford-Sheyenne scored nine points in the final two and a half minutes with an exclamation point coming from Teddy Allmaras. The senior guard got the ball on the fast break and raced to the rim, where he finished with a finger roll layup despite being fouled. Allmaras nailed the freebie to trim Ryan’s lead to 16-11 at the end of the first quarter.

The Rockets took a brief 17-16 lead with 5:27 left in the second quarter, but Mason Hedberg quickly restored order. The senior guard gave his team an 18-17 edge nine seconds later with a smooth take to the rim.

The layup was all he needed to catch fire, as Hedberg recorded eight points in the second quarter to give the Lions a 31-25 lead at halftime.

“(The run) was great,” Hedberg said. “We just pushed the ball in transition, and we had good ball movement. New Rockford makes it tough to get good looks, so that’s just a testament to how well we move the ball.”

Ben Bohl translated that momentum into buckets to start the third quarter. The senior kicked off the frame with a pair of 2-pointers, and Hedberg sank a mid-range jumper to push Ryan’s lead to 37-27 with 5:44 on the clock.

The Lions’ lead grew to as much as 12 points before New Rockford-Sheyenne made another push. The Rockets slowly chipped away at the lead, and Hunter Thompson delivered the biggest blow yet.

The junior caught the ball at the top of the arc with time winding down and calmly drilled the buzzer-beating triple to cut Ryan’s lead to 44-36 heading into the final frame.

But the Rockets weren’t done. A deep ball by Allmaras in the opening minute of the fourth quarter put even more pressure on the Lions, as the score now read 44-42.

Both teams remained neck-and-neck until Bohl delivered the dagger. Leading 55-52 with 46 seconds left on the clock, the senior got the ball at the top of the arc and didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

Bohl rose over the outstretched hands of three New Rockford-Sheyenne defenders and released a high-arching shot that soared through the air and found the bottom of the net without even grazing iron.

“Coach (Feller) was calling a high ball screen for me, and I got in my spot,” Bohl said. “I just shot it, and it went in. It felt good.”

The clutch 3-pointer all but sealed the deal, as Ryan went on to claim the 62-56 victory.

Allmaras finished with 16 points for the Rockets in the losing effort, while Thompson added another 14 points. New Rockford-Sheyenne will face Ellendale today at 2:45 p.m. in the consolation bracket.

Meanwhile, Bohl led the charge for the Lions with 29 points and 14 rebounds in a game where Ryan needed every bucket to fend off a resilient Rockets team.

“We knew coming into the state tournament, because we’ve been here three times, that teams are always going to have runs,” Bohl said. “Every team at the state tournament is a good team. We just knew we had to stay composed.”

Also earning a double-double was Hedberg, who racked up 21 points and 13 boards. Jaxon Feller scored 10 points.

With the win, the Lions get a revenge match against No. 1-seeded Thompson at 8:15 p.m. this evening at the Minot State Dome. The Tommies came out on top when the two teams faced off in the regular season, 73-57.

“We would want nothing more than to avenge our loss,” Hedberg said. “(Thompson) is a really good team, so we have to come out strong. It’s going to be a battle.”

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