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Rugby opens regional with Ryan

By Staff | Feb 21, 2014

Rugby High School junior Zach Miller shoots over TGU senior Luke Bacon in the Panthers’ 69-47 win in the District 11 title game Feb. 15 in Bottineau. Lori Gronvold/PCT

The road to the state title for the Rugby High School boys basketball team goes through Minot next. The No. 1-ranked Panthers and District 11 champions open the Region 6 tournament against District 12’s No. 4 seed Bishop Ryan – the only team to lose to RHS within single digits.

The teams play the first game of the tournament at 3 p.m. Monday at Minot State University Dome.

It was more than two months ago that Ryan hosted RHS (23-0) and got starting forward Zach Miller in early foul trouble. RHS starter Brad Heidlebaugh missed a chunk of the first half after hitting his head on the hardwood, but steadied the Panthers late.

“With only one of them in there, they could double off of backside shooter and they made it tough to get baskets inside,” RHS coach Mike Santjer said. “In their gym, they always shoot the ball really well. They feel pretty comfortable there. They’re hard to beat at home.”

Ryan won’t quite be at home this time. Both teams will have to adjust to shooting in the cavernous dome. Both teams also have grown since the mid-December meeting.

“We match up pretty well,” Santjer said. “They’re pretty athletic, we’re pretty athletic, so it should be a heck of a game there.”

Ryan senior Brody Bosch scored a game-high 26 points and got through to the rim at will. RHS senior Chris Hamilton said beating the Lions again requires stopping penetration first.

“We gotta stay out of foul trouble,” Hamilton said. “That was big the last game. They’re not very big, so if we can keep both of our big guys in the game it will help a lot.”

Senior guard Jaedon Haman said the Panthers’ shooting has improved significantly since the last Ryan game, but intensity has wavered recently. Haman expects a stronger start after slow openings in the District 11 tournament. In the semifinal, Dunseith led Rugby 21-8 after the first quarter.

“We just have to learn that we have to come out and get psyched up for games, no matter what,” Haman said.

The winner of the quarterfinal will meet the winner of District 12’s runner-up Berthold vs. District 11’s No. 3 seed Drake-Anamoose at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The other quarterfinals pit District 12 champion Des Lacs Burlington vs. District 11’s No. 4 seed Dunseith and District 11 runner-up TGU vs. District 12’s No. 3 seed Our Redeemer’s Christian School.

“The matchups are pretty good and should make for a pretty good region tournament,” Santjer said.

If RHS advances to the championship game, they will play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at MSU Dome.

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