Still the kings

Bishop Ryan exacts revenge against Our Redeemer's, 68-30, to advance to state tournament

Al Christianson/Special to The Daily News Bishop Ryan senior Chinaza Udekwe soars toward the rim for a layup during the Lions’ 68-30 win over Our Redeemer’s on Thursday in the championship game of the Region 6 boys basketball tournament at the Minot State Dome.

The Lions are still at the top of the food chain.

The Bishop Ryan boys basketball found redemption on Thursday night. After falling to Our Redeemer’s in the District 12 tournament on Feb. 23, the Lions exacted their revenge with a dominant 68-30 win over the Knights in the championship game of the Region 6 tournament at the Minot State Dome.

Ryan came ready to play and locked down Our Redeemer’s in the opening half en route to a convincing win that sends the team to its third straight state tournament.

“We said, ‘Hey, we gotta kick this in gear or else this is going to be a repeat of last time,'” Ryan head coach Jeremy Feller said. “I think that last game woke us up, and boy did they respond.”

The Hendrickson brothers kept Our Redeemer’s in the mix for the first four minutes.

Senior Matt Hendrickson kicked off the game with a corner triple, and freshman Zach Hendrickson pushed his team’s lead to 7-4 at the three-minute mark with a mid-range jumper.

That’s when everything fell apart for the Knights.

After his first two shots rimmed out, Ryan’s Ben Bohl got on the board with a triple from the top of the arc. Now leading 8-7 with time winding down, fellow senior Chinaza Udekwe got a wide open look from the left shoulder and drained the 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Lions an 11-7 lead at the break.

“I think that (3-pointer) was a big momentum boost,” Udekwe said. “Especially because it was right at the end. It gave us the energy to start the second quarter coming out hot.”

With momentum on the Lions’ side, Mason Hedberg piled on.

The senior got fouled from beyond the arc on the opening possession and calmly knocked down all three freebies. Hedberg got some space from deep once more on the next possession and made the Knights pay by draining the triple to push Ryan’s lead to 17-7.

Then it was Bohl’s turn to get in on the action. The senior exploded for three triples on the Lions’ next five possessions to make it a 28-7 affair with 4:45 on the clock.

Hedberg added another two triples for good measure to cap off a 35-0 run by the Lions in a span of nine minutes. Our Redeemer’s junior Landon Lang finally broke the seal at the 1:30 mark with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, but Ryan now held a 39-10 lead and ultimately went into halftime up 46-10.

“We came out and fired away, and they were falling,” Hedberg said. “It’s great knowing whenever you pass the ball to an open man they can do great things with it. It’s just about having trust in your teammates, and that trust is contagious throughout the team.”

The Knights didn’t throw in the towel when they came out of the tunnel for the third quarter, though.

Instead, Our Redeemer’s outscored Ryan, 14-12. The Knights stood their ground as a team and had five different players score in the quarter. But, with running clock in effect for the final frame, the Lions emptied their bench at the midway point and cruised to the 68-30 win.

Zach Hendrickson finished with 10 points, while Lang recorded seven points and Matthew Hendrickson tallied six points in a loss that marks the end of a stellar season for Our Redeemer’s.

With just two seniors graduating (Matt Hendrickson and Jason Brown), the Knights will look to build off the strong showing next year.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” ORCS head coach Brody Bosch said. “Hopefully younger kids in the program can look at this and see what they can do when they work as a team. They’ll see that anything is possible.”

Bohl finished with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds in the win. Another three Ryan players also broke double-digit points: Hedberg (17), Udekwe (16) and sophomore Jaxon Feller (10).

After narrowly making it out of the district tournament two weeks ago, the Lions are now set to begin their state tournament run next Thursday at the Minot State Dome.

“It puts things in perspective,” Bohl said. “In life, you’re not always going to get things given to you. That’s what happened with the district tournament…It showed us that we have to continue to work every day. The state tournament has been our goal all year, and now we just have to go out there and do what we do.”

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