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Tom Mix, Published March 21 2014

No. 1 Minot Ryan tops Central Cass at state basketball

FARGO – Minot Ryan has entered most of its games the last two seasons as the favorite.

Friday against Central Cass in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B state girls basketball tournament was no different, and for the 56th straight time, Ryan stepped off the court victors.

The top-ranked Lions defeated the Squirrels 54-34 at the Fargodome. It was a rematch of last year’s state title game.

“We knew coming in that Central Cass was a great team,” said Minot Ryan junior forward Hannah Stewart, who paced the Lions with 15 points and 11 rebounds. “There was going to be a lot of ups and downs throughout the whole game because that was what the championship game last year. We tried to play disciplined and play the game we have been playing all year.”

The Lions (27-0) advanced to play No. 3-ranked Bismarck Shiloh Christian at 8 p.m. today’s title game. Central Cass (23-4) plays Beach in the third-place game at 6 p.m.

The Lions led 12-5 after the first quarter and began the final eight minutes of the first half on a 20-0 run to pull away early.

“The run was great,” said Minot Ryan junior forward Gabbie Bohl, who finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds. “Every team is going to go on one of those in a game, but we kept our composure and played together.”

Ryan held a 36-11 lead at halftime, but Central Cass didn’t go down quietly.

The No. 8-ranked Squirrels put together a 10-0 run in the third quarter. Later, Central Cass got to within 11 points of the Lions after junior forward Jessie Roesler connected for a 3-pointer with 6 minutes remaining, making it 43-32 in favor of the Lions. Roesler’s 3 capped a 9-0 Squirrels run that started the fourth quarter.

“Once the girls knocked down a few shots, you could see their confidence build a little, and that was good to see,” Central Cass head coach Ryan Mears said. “They didn’t quit. We had good stops on the defensive end as well. It would have been easy to quit, but they fought back. It was just too big of a deficit to get out of.”

Ryan answered Roesler’s bucket with a 9-0 run of its own, fueled by Stewart and Bohl.

The Lions scored a 54-50 win over the Squirrels in the title game last year, but needed to rally from an eight-point deficit in the final seven minutes.

“They just kept playing hard and never let up,” Ryan head coach Julie Stewart said of the Squirrels. “They knocked down some shots and came out scrappy. We started to settle, and that is exactly what you don’t want to do when you are ahead.”

Senior center Faith Dooley scored 11 points to lead the Squirrels.

Ryan is one win away from tying Larimore’s Class B girls consecutive wins record. Larimore won 57 straight games from 2002-2004.

The Lions’ last loss was a 46-45 setback against Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock in the quarterfinals of the 2012 state tournament.

Central Cass 5 11 23 34

Ryan 12 36 43 54

CENTRAL CASS (23-4): Dooley 4 3-8 11, Camas 2 0-0 6, Goettle 3 0-0 6, Erickson 2 0-0 5, Roesler 1 0-0 3, Romsdal 1 0-1 2, Cramer 0 1-4 1. Totals: 13 4-13 34.

MINOT RYAN (27-0): Stewart 7 1-3 15, Bohl 7 0-2 14, Wald 4 0-0 10, Rovig 2 0-0 6, Leidholt 2 0-0 4, Schmidt 1 0-2 3, Landsiedel 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 1-7 54.

3-point goals: Wald 2, Rovig 2, Schmidt 1, Camas 2, Erickson, Roesler. Total fouls: CC 9, MR 15. Rebounds: CC 23 (Cramer 5), MR 38 (Bohl 16). Assists: CC 7 (Cramer 4), MR 12 (Rovig 6). Turnovers: CC 20, MR 15.

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