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Edwards takes helm of Bishop Ryan

Submitted Photo The 2023-24 Bishop Ryan Lions Girls’ Basketball Team. Back row, left to right: Bentley Schneider, Kirstin Brunner, Taylor Lundeen, Alena Johannsen, Ceci Johannsen, Violet Demars and Elsie Braun. Front row, left to right: Tochi Udekwe, Haylee Schwan, Olivia Demars, Peyton Beeter, Arwen LaVallie, Chinelo Udekwe, Cambree Zwak, Mia Bruanberger, Jaidyn Braunberger.

Bishop Ryan enters the new season of girls’ basketball with a new coach in a new environment, thanks to the new three-class basketball format making its debut this season.

Taking the helm of the Lions is Cole Edwards. Edwards replaced Roger Coleman as both girls’ basketball coach and as Activities Director for the school. Before arriving at Bishop Ryan, Edwards served as Director of Basketball Operations at Minot State University, and also assisted Brody Bosch at Our Redeemer’s Christian School and assisted the Bishop Ryan boys’ basketball team in 2020-21.

Edwards and his team have spent the first weeks of practice installing a new offensive scheme, where they will look to run a fast-paced offense and press more on defense.

“We have a great group of girls,” said Edwards. “It’s never really easy to shift gears and try to learn a whole new system offensively and defensively, and we are doing a lot of different things than they did last year.”

Nonetheless, Edwards praised how well his team has practiced so far this year.

“They are picking things up really easily. I think we should be able to compete at a high level if we stay healthy,” said Edwards.

If Bishop Ryan has a successful season, staying healthy will be a key reason why; especially, after last year’s squad was hampered by injuries, as it limped its way to five wins.

“We have three starters that didn’t play last year due to injuries, so I think getting them back to playing basketball and just learning to play with the other two on the floor again will be the biggest challenge.”

Violet Demars is one such player. Demars is coming off knee surgery, and according to Edwards is looking better every day. While she will have some restrictions at the start of the season, she will develop into a leader from behind the arc.

“That’s what we want to do is hunt threes, so she’ll be huge for us to be able to spread the floor,” said Edwards.

To that end, the Lions will get out and run, using their quickness to beat teams up the floor, and then respond on defense by using a full court press and forcing turnovers that can lead to easy baskets.

Alena Johnson will use her height and athleticism in the post as Bishop Ryan’s center.

“She’s really athletic and can get out and run the floor really well. She can also handle the ball,” said Edwards. “She’ll create a lot of mismatches a bigger girl has, but if a girl can match her strength, she’ll usually be quicker. Vice versa too. If they’re able to match her speed, she’ll be a lot quicker.”

Other key returners include the Demar twins, Olivia and Violet, who are juniors. Olivia will play the point and handles the ball well.

“She’s one of the smartest players I’ve got to coach,” said Edwards. “She already knows everything we’ve put in, and everybody’s been smart like that.”

Seniors Peyton Beter and Arwen LaVallie will also contribute off the bench. Newcomers for the Lions include sophomores Haylee Schwan and Bentley Schneider. According to Edwards, Schwan is both a longer guard and strong rebounder who should see minutes.

The Lions will be remaining in Class B for both boys’ and girls’ basketball, finding a home in Region 4, District 8. They are joined by Drake-Anamoose, Glenburn, Harvey/Wells County, Lewis & Clark-Berthold, Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood, Our Redeemer’s Christian School, Surrey, TGU, Velva, Westhope-Newburg.

“I think competing for district and regional titles is not that far off for us, just because the group of girls we have our really competitive,” said Edwards. “They come to work every day, ready to get better. They ask the right questions, and they’re ready to compete.”

Bishop Ryan opens the season today, when they travel across town to Nedrose, who is now in Class A. Tip-off is at 7:15 p.m.

Then, the Lions will take on Hatton-Northwood on Friday, and state-ranked Kenmare-Bowbells on Saturday at the Shootout on the Prairie at the Minot Auditorium.

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