Maybe the biggest thing Minot Ryan had to say after the first round of the first round of the North Dakota Class B girls state basketball tournament was a sigh.
The unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Lady Lions survived a major scare from Benson County on Thursday night, grabbing a shaky 58-53 victory in front of a large crowd in the FargoDome.
With the win, Minot Ryan improved to 25-0 for the year and advanced to Friday’s semifinal round to face Thompson. Benson County, 23-2 overall, will play New Town in the consolation semifinals today at 3 p.m.
Minot Ryan almost did find itself celebrating the win. Thanks to the hot hat of Katelyn Engh and Sara Schwanke, Benson County managed to overcome a horrid first-half shooting performance and grab its first lead midway through the fourth period.
After the Lady Lions had grabbed a 4-point lead, at 39-35, on a basket by point guard Annika Rovig, Engh shook the Benson County fans to life by throwing up a three-point shot with 2 seconds left in the third to cut Ryan’s lead to 39-38.
The Benson County star delivered again moments later by opening the fourth quarter with her second consecutive trey, and staking the Lady Cats to a stunning 41-39 advantage.
Benson County continued to press the issue from there. Becca Eberle and Scwanke both knocked down shots in the ensuing minutes and helped the Lady Wildcats hold a slim 45-43 cushion with just over 5 minutes left in regulation.
Unfortunately for Benson County two bad things happened from there. Schwanke was whistled for her fifth personal foul at the 4:53 mark of the final frame. That foul ignited Ryan on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes that all but sealed the win.
Meghan Jorgenson and Eberle scored a mini 4-0 run late that pulled the Lady Wildcats to within 52-48 with 1:58 to play, but it came to late.
Thanks to a dismal shooting effort by the Lady Wildcats in the first 16 minutes, Ryan controlled the game early. The Lady Lions, who held an 11-point lead at one point in the first half, outscored Benson County by a 15-7 clip in the first eight minutes of the contest.
They used an 11-9 run in the second to stretch their lead to 10, at 26-26, at the half.
The Lady Wildcats were anything but through. Bnson County came out swinging in the third quarter. Led by an impressive effort by Schwanke, the Lady Wildcats went on a 10-1 run to open the second half and cut the Lady Lions’ lead to 27-26 with 4:26 left in the period when Engh dropped in a shot.
Page 2 of 2 - Schwanke finished the game with 11 points, all coming in the second half.
Minot Ryan managed to right its ship a bit from there. Hanna Stewart pushed in eight of her game-high 22 points in the frame and helped the Lady Lions regain a 36-35 lead with less than a minute to play in the stanza.
Overall, the third quarter was a decisive win for the Lady Cats. Benson County outscored Minot Ryan by a staggering 22-13 margin in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Despite their struggles in the first half, Benson County finished the game with four players in double figures on offense. Andrea Jorgenson closed out the contest as the Lady Cats’ top scorer with 17 points. Eberle and Engh chipped in 12 and 10, respectively.
As a team, the Lady Wildcats outscored Minot Ruan by a 35-31 ledger in the second half.
Minot Ryan 58, Benson County 53
Minot Ryan 15 11 13 19 — 58
Benson County 7 9 22 15 — 53
Minot Ryan — Stewart 10-15 2-4 22, Rovig 7-10 2-5 18, Bohl 2-6 7-10 11, Harmon 0-2 4-6 4, Leidholt 1-4 1-2 3, Wald 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 20-39 16-27 58.
Benson County — A. Jorgenson 6-11 3-3 17, Eberle 6-14 0-0 12, Schwanke 4-18 3-3 11, Engh 3-4 1-2 10, M. Jorgenson 0-1 3-6 3, Rice 0-1 0-0 0, Sears 0-5 0-0 0. Totals: 19-54 10-14 53.
3-Pointers: Ryan 2-5 (Rovig 2-4, Wald 0-1), Benson County 5-7 (A.Jorgenson 2-2, Engh 3-2, Sears 0-2). Rebounds: Ryan 24 (Eberle 8), Benson County 29 (Stewarty 12). Assists: Ryan 8 (3 with 2), Benson County 12 (Rovig 5). Total fouls: Ryan 10, Benson County 19. Fouled out: Schwanke.