Rugby rallies on road over Ryan
Unranked Bishop Ryan was more than ready for No. 4 Rugby High School in a back-and-forth regular season boys basketball game between the Region 6 foes on Dec. 14.
The score was knotted four times and the lead changed on nine occasions before the Panthers went ahead for good on junior Brad Heidlebaugh’s baseline jumper with 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter. RHS went on to build its largest lead of nine before holding off the Lions 70-62 for a fifth straight win to open the season.
Ryan senior guard Brody Bosch finished with a game-high 26 points followed by Heidlebaugh’s 25, but different Panthers came up with huge plays throughout the game to lift Rugby.
RHS senior forward Chris Hamilton hit a 3-pointer in each of the first three quarters with the last coming on a left-corner swish at the buzzer to give RHS a 55-50 lead going into the fourth. Junior guard Tanner Bernhardt, who finished with 14 points, scored his first points of the game on a buzzer-beating triple to end the first half and cut Ryan’s lead to 37-34.
“This summer, we didn’t have Tanner for most games, we didn’t have Brad, because they were off playing (AAU tournaments),” RHS coach Mike Santjer said, “so everybody knows that (they) can step up big and we give pretty much everybody the green light if they feel they can make a play.”
Ryan raced out to an 8-0 lead and had the momentum for much of the first half. Four Lions combined on six 3-pointers before the break and junior forward Jared Will had seven points in the first quarter. Five of Will’s early points came on free-throws in a tightly officiated game, which saw Rugby junior forward Zach Miller pick up three fouls in the first quarter.
Heidlebaugh fell hard on a rebound attempt, smacking the back of his head against the floor, and missed a portion of the first quarter. Hamilton hit his first 3-pointer on the next possession to get the Panthers within one.
“It was definitely back-and-forth and I hadn’t been making my 3s in awhile, so it was just good to finally hit a few in a big game,” said Hamilton, who finished with 11 points.
Rugby took its first lead of the game at 24-23 following three 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the second quarter. Junior reserve Eric Hooker, Heidlebaugh and Hamilton connected from deep.
“We haven’t played a team that big and they’re big at every position and so it was good that we learned a lot and how to handle some of that,” Ryan coach Brock Teets said. “Heidlebaugh is one of the best players in the state, hands down. He just does it all so well for them. Rugby’s got a very nice team and I take my hat off to them.”
The game remained close through the third quarter and Ryan took its final lead on senior guard Jacob Magnuson’s 3-pointer with 2:21 left in the third. Bosch received little help outside of that and scored 19 of Ryan’s 25 second-half points.
“Brody’s an extremely talented basketball player,” Teets said. “He’s a senior and we ask a lot out of him and he’s very good at getting to the rim, as you could see tonight. He kind of carried us there for awhile and made some things happen for us.”
Santjer said his staff didn’t scout much before the game and expected Bosch to shoot more from the outside. Bosch easily got by Rugby’s defense and was 11 for 13 from the free-throw line.
“We really focused our defense on keeping guys out of the middle and not letting them be able to drive,” Hamilton said, “so we’re just gonna have to work on that man-to-man ‘D’.”?The game was the first in a string of six tough matchups, including home games against No. 9 Des Lacs-Burlington (Jan. 3) and No. 2 Four Winds-Minnewaukan (Jan. 6).
“Winning by 40 doesn’t test you, doesn’t give you a gut check,” Santjer said, “so it was good for a little bit of a gut check for these guys to say, ‘You know we can dig our heels in and battle.’ We’ve been trying for a couple years to get some good games in. That’s the only way you’re gonna get better. You can practice and practice, (but need) to play good teams.”
Miller gives Panthers boost
Langdon Area was no match for the Rugby High School boys basketball team on Dec. 13. The Panthers cruised to a 76-27 win at Charles Hanneman Gymnasium and held their collective breath as star forward Brad Heidlebaugh left the game temporarily with a hyperextended knee in the first quarter.
Enter junior Zach Miller. The lanky, 6-foot-4 forward morphed into a different player than what he was in the team’s first three games of the season.
Miller had 10 of his season-high 16 points in the second quarter. Miller scored eight points in a 15-0 run, which put the game out of reach and gave the Panthers a 39-8 lead. RHS led 53-16 at the break.
“I kind of felt like we need a spot to be filled and I wasn’t sure if (Heidlebaugh) was gonna make it back or not,” Miller said, “so I felt like we had to make that post presence known again.”
Miller was flashing across the lane and showcased his soft touch from the block and the high post. RHS coach Mike Santjer described the inside-outside threat as a “Jekyl and Hyde” performer with a “world of capability.”
“We’d like to see this Zach all the time,” Santjer said. “He’s a kid that we work on constantly to be aggressive, be aggressive, be aggressive.”
Junior guard Tanner Bernhardt led all scorers with 23 points, in a game that played to the speedster’s abilities.
“(Bernhardt) thrives in a game where we can push the ball up the floor,” Santjer said. “He’s about as athletic a kid you’re gonna see. Any time he can put some pressure on the ball and get some tips and get out and run that just gets his blood flowing and it seems that makes his game.”
The second half was much of the same as Langdon managed just two points in the third quarter. Kade Pengilly led the Cardinals with eight points.
“Rugby does a great job of controlling the tempo of the game and doing what they want to do,” Langdon coach Kyle Knutson said. “They push you into spots that you don’t like to be in. They play big defense and they transition well.”
Senior guard Jaedon Haman was instrumental in controlling the Panthers, who often made three or four passes before firing up shots.
“Offense was moving great,” Haman said. “We like to move the ball around, get good looks, make the defense move a lot to get the openings in our offense.”
Haman, the least vertical of the starters, laughed at the team’s inability to flush one of three dunk attempts in the game. Heidlebaugh lost the handle on his first attempt and grabbed his knee after a second. Bernhardt also missed an attempt.
Haman endorsed the team’s leapers, but on condition: “As long as they don’t get hurt.”
Said Santjer: “Let’s just finish layups instead of worrying about dunking, that’s for sure.”
The Panthers improved to 6-0 on Tuesday with an 80-33 road win at Harvey-Wells County. Heidlebaugh scored a game-high 27 and Bernhardt added 24. RHS plays today vs. Beulah at the Minot Auditorium.
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