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Tom Mix, Published March 23 2013

Minot Ryan girls edge Central Cass for Class B state championship

FARGO – Central Cass and Minot Ryan locked up in the North Dakota Class B girls basketball state championship game on Saturday, and the title game lived up to its billing.

The Lions and Squirrels played down to the wire, but it was Minot Ryan who claimed the title defeating Central Cass 54-50 at the Fargodome.

The much-anticipated matchup featured standouts Hannah Breske – a 5-foot-11 senior guard – of Central Cass and Minot Ryan’s 6-foot-2 sophomore forward Hannah Stewart.

Breske and Stewart didn’t shy away from the spotlight at all. The two stars shined bright and left their marks on the championship game.

Stewart, who won tournament MVP honors, scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead No. 1-ranked Minot Ryan. Breske tallied 26 points and collected nine rebounds for the No. 8-ranked Squirrels (24-4).

“It feels so good to be a state champion,” Stewart said. “Central Cass put up a really good fight. They are a very good team. Hannah (Breske) is a really good player. She can shoot well off the dribble, and we weren’t really prepared for that.”

Central Cass rattled off a 16-0 run in the second half and led Ryan 42-34 with less than seven minutes left. It was just the second time this season the Lions had trailed in the fourth quarter.

“We got on a roll for a little bit and started knocking down shots,” Breske said. “We had fun, and in the end, it didn’t come out the way we planned it, but we won’t ever forget about this game.”

Ryan rallied and took the lead back when Stewart knocked down a layup with 2:17 left in regulation putting the Lions up 51-50. Ryan never trailed following Stewart’s go-ahead bucket.

Central Cass was playing in its third title game in four years and for the third time the Squirrels end their season as state runners-up.

The victory completes a perfect season for the Lions (27-0) and extends their state-best winning streak – which dates back to last season – to 29 games.

“Minot Ryan is such a good team,” Central Cass head coach Ryan Mears said. “We ran a few things to try to get their size out of the lane, and I thought our kids played phenomenal. They put forth a great effort the entire time.”

Minot Ryan is the first team to complete an undefeated season in Class B since 2010 when Beach went 26-0.

“It was a blast,” Minot Ryan head coach Julie Stewart said. “I’m just so excited and happy for these girls. They are so committed, and I am happy they get to enjoy this.”

Central Cass junior center Faith Dooley missed two free throws with 1:07 remaining and Ryan increased its lead to 53-50 on its next possession when senior guard Quinn Harmon banked a shot of the glass.

Breske missed two free throws with 34.8 seconds left, but the Squirrels still had a chance to force overtime with 14.5 seconds remaining. Central Cass couldn’t get the look it wanted, and Ryan forward Gabbie Bohl intercepted a pass down low.

Bohl added eight points and seven rebounds for Ryan and sunk the back end of two free-throw attempts with 4.1 seconds remaining in regulation to clinch the win.

“It feels great,” Bohl said of the championship. “I missed that first free throw, but I had to come back and sink that second one to seal the deal.”

It is the Lions’ second state title in school history. Hannah Stewart scored 18 of her 27 in the first half and scored all of the Lions’ 11 points in the second quarter. She ended the first half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just inside half court.

Ryan 13 26 34 54

CC 9 22 37 50

MINOT RYAN (27-0): Stewart 11 4-6 27, Bohl 3 2-4 8, Harmon 3 2-2 8, Rovig 2 1-3 7, Wald 1 0-0 2, Leidholt 0 2-3 2, Schmidt 0 0-1 0, Lipp 0 0-0 0. Totals 20-43 11-18 54.

CENTRAL CASS (24-4): Breske 10 1-4 26, Dooley 6 2-7 14, Camas 3 0-0 9, Tronson 0 1-2 1, Cramer 0 0-0 0, Goettle 0 0-0 0, Titus 0 0-0 0. Totals 19-55 4-13 50.

3-point goals: Stewart, Rovig 2, Breske 5, Camas 3. Total fouls: MR 12, CC 15. Rebounds: MR 33 (Stewart 12), CC 32 (Dooley 11). Assists: MR 9 (Harmon 4), CC 6 (Titus 3). Steals: MR 3 (Bohl 2), CC 4 (Breske 2, Titus 2). Turnovers: MR 14, CC 14.

All-tournament team

Ashley Bentz, Grant County.

Cydni Stedman, Beach.

Shannon Galegher, Thompson.

Karleigh Weber, Thompson.

Katelynn Engh, Benson County.

Anika Rovig, Minot Ryan.

(Unanimous choices)

Kendra Weigel, Napoleon.

Gabbie Bohl, Minot Ryan.

Hannah Stewart, Minot Ryan (MVP).

Hannah Breske, Central Cass.

Faith Dooley, Central Cass.

Minot Ryan 54, Central Cass 50

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562