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Knights top Lions 53-41

ORCS locks up top seed for regional tournament

Ryan Ladika/MDN The Knights' Zach Hendrickson (20) dribbles through a pair of Lions defenders in the first half.

The Bishop Ryan Lions and the Our Redeemer’s Knights experienced vastly different paths to the District 12 title game Monday night.

Through the first two days of the tournament hosted at the Minot Auditorium between Feb. 26 and March 1, the Knights coasted by their first two matchups. First came a 56-19 rout of the Glenburn Panthers that saw most of the Knights’ starters pulled in the third quarter. Our Redeemer’s then easily dispatched of the Surrey Mustangs in the semifinal 54-36 the next day to seal its place in the final.

Bishop Ryan, on the other hand, did not have as easy of a time setting up its date with the Knights. Trailing at halftime by 16 points to the Des-Lacs Burlington Lakers in their Friday quarterfinal, Jaxon Feller led an incredible second-half comeback, capped off by his game-winning shot and forced turnover in the final seconds of the contest to down the Lakers 52-50. The Lions also narrowly snuck past the Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood Mavericks in the semifinal by a 55-52 final tally.

The two teams met in the title game riding similar highs, though, playing for the District 12 number one seed in the Region 6 tournament scheduled to tip off March 8.

Playing before raucous crowds on both sides of the packed house, the Lions won the opening tipoff but were unable to immediately put the game’s first points on the scoreboard.

Instead, it was the Knights who found the inside of the basket first, when Tanner Swenson drained his three-point try just before the six-minute mark of the first quarter.

Coltan Francis and Zach Hendrickson followed Swenson’s three points with triples of their own, forcing Bishop Ryan’s head coach Broderick Bosch to stop the clock with four minutes and 51 seconds left and the Knights holding an early 9-0 lead.

Conner Thompson got the Lions on the board 13 seconds later with two made free throws after he was fouled and later hit a mid-range jumpshot with just under three minutes to play to get the Lions within five. Swenson responded with his second three-pointer of the quarter, and Levi Weekley punctuated the quarter with two more to give the Knights a 14-6 lead after eight minutes.

The Lions provided more resistance in the second quarter, outscoring Our Redeemer’s 13-12. The period started with another impressive Knights run, when Weekley made his next two attempts around an Ian Johnson two-pointer, and Thompson scored two more to pull Bishop Ryan back to within seven.

Hendrickson pulled up from just inside the arc for a deep two-point shot, and made his second three-point shot of the game to put the Knights up by 12 at 23-11. It was all Lions from then on, though, as Brady Feller made two free throws and two more two point shots and Thompson added two more from the line around another Hendrickson triple as the Lions closed the gap to 26-19 at the halftime buzzer.

The Knights possessed the Midas Touch from beyond the arc in the second half. As an encore to their six made threes in the first half, the trio of Hendrickson, Weekley and William Sanders combined for five more in the third quarter alone, and brought Our Redeemer’s into the final eight minutes ahead 47-31.

“Just got in one of those zones I guess,” Hendrickson said. “Players got me good shots, set some good screens, made some good passes and they fell.”

The Lions put a furious rally together in crunch time, holding the Knights to only two points until the final minute when they were forced to foul Our Redeemer’s to stop the clock. Brady Feller led the charge with eight points, but the clock eventually ran out on the Lions’ chances and the Knights prevailed 53-41 after Jonah Ringstad dribbled out the final ten seconds.

“Defense aside, really, we’re both good defensive teams and we knew whoever played better defense today was going to come out with a win,” Hendrickson added. “I love this tournament. The regional tournament is just a little bit better in the dome, but there’s nothing better than Class B basketball, it’s so much fun.”

The Knights junior led his squad with 22 points on the evening including six successful tries from behind the arc, and Weekley also contributed 13 points to reach double digits. Brady Feller was the Lions’ leading scorer with 17 points with Thompson right on his heels with 16 more.

Up next on the docket for the No. 1 Knights is a matchup with No. 4 Bottineau March 8 at 3 p.m. The No. 2 Lions will square off with No. 3 Velva following the conclusion of the third game of the day.

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