A championship zone: Bohle’s defensive adjustment proves crucial in Warner’s second straight title
The night before the 2014 girls Class B state championship game, Stewart Bohle was strategizing.
The Warner coach sat in the stands watching the first half of Shelby Selland’s 34-point, 11-rebound double-double for Sanborn Central/Woonsocket. He didn’t stick around Huron Arena to see the final touches the Blackhawks put on a 21-point semifinal win over Hanson.
Instead, at halftime, he told his assistant coaches, “Let’s get our kids and get the heck out of here. I don’t want them seeing how good Sanborn is.” The defending champion Monarchs left and went to Dairy Queen.
It was a psychological move by Bohle. The on-court adjustment came later that night when the coaching staff was strategizing. After Selland’s dominating double-double, Bohle threw out an idea to play a 1-1-3 zone. He wanted to force SCW to beat them from the 3-point line, rather than Selland sitting on the low block.
“Honestly, it was a dumb thought on my part and then we took off and ran with it. If they’re going to beat us, I want them to beat us from the perimeter,” said Bohle, who admitted he’s never run that zone before or since. “I am not going to let Shelby Selland stand on the block and score 28 against us. I’m just not going to do it. That’s just the way it is. If they hit 3s, we’re going to lose.”
With Miranda Ristau down low and the backside defense of Jaici Schlosser, the Monarchs caused Selland fits. It took a late-night hail-mary move, a potentially uncalled foul and Ashley Rozell sinking nine free-throws in overtime, but Warner repeated as Class B champs in 2014, 49-44 in overtime.
"The second time was just that feeling of not only can we do it one year, but we are a program that are going to continually be here and be a contender for the state championship,” Rozell said.
It’s among the finalists for The Daily Republic’s Battle of the Best Games girls series. The Daily Republic’s Battle of the Best Games, which started last month by having readers vote on their top high school basketball title games, has picked four finalists in both the boys and girls divisions.
Readers are being called upon again to pick the No. 1 game in each category through online balloting. Voting is now open through mitchellrepublic.com., and will remain open through Saturday.
Bohle wanted to force SCW to beat it from deep, and ironically, Myah Selland nearly did. Coming out of a timeout with 1.2 seconds to play in regulation, Bohle told his team not to foul and to grab any rebound. Myah Selland launched a 3 at the buzzer, but it hit off the front of the rim and forced overtime.
“Carly Rozell probably fouled at the end,” Bohle said. “Fortunately enough, the officials didn’t call that. It took us into overtime and the rest is history.”
Myah Selland, a current South Dakota State University women’s basketball player, finished with a game-high 26 points. But Ashley Rozell was the star of the extra four minutes. SCW fans had been heckling her all game after she airballed a 3-pointer to start the game. Fighting the constant “air ball” chants, she finished with 21 points, including the nine made free throws in overtime.
“As a player anytime fans start getting on you and heckling you, you have the tendency to want to shut down,” said Ashley Rozell, who had an All-America volleyball career at Northern State University. “But I knew in that moment, that wasn’t really an option no matter what the fans were doing to me.”
Ristau, who had 18 points and nine rebounds, made Warner’s only field goal in overtime. She, alongside Carly Rozell and Schlosser manned the paint in its 1-1-3 zone, which held SCW to 36.2 percent shooting. Ristau played college basketball at Northern State University, while Rozell played college volleyball at Dakota State University.
Shelby Selland finished 2-for-10 for four points and a team-best 10 rebounds. Shelby Selland went on to play college basketball at Augustana University.
In overtime, Ristau fouled out with a 46-41 lead and 17 seconds to play, despite Carly Rozell pleading for the ref to give her the foul.
“I have never seen her plead for a foul more in my life,” her sister Ashley laughed. “She was like, ‘No, I fouled her. I fouled her.’ The refs were like, ‘Dude, no you didn’t.’”
That sequence late in overtime exemplified its greatest strength. Their basketball IQ and athleticism helped implement the 1-1-3 zone in the morning practice, but their desire to win rather than individual statistics led it to back-to-back titles.
Kaitlyn Boesl didn’t score, but she ran the offense. As a backside defender, Schlosser finished with five points and four rebounds. They weren’t the flashiest or most skilled players, but Bohle still remembers their impact against the Blackhawks, who had previously lost Savannah Swenson to a torn ACL.
“They hated to lose,” Bohle said about his back-to-back championship team. “I mean, they absolutely 100 percent hated to lose.”
They didn’t lose very often. The Monarchs won volleyball and girls basketball championships in both 2013 and 2014. Four straight titles for the group.
Bohle remembers volleyball coach Kari Jung saying, “Now the pressure’s on you,” after they claimed their third straight volleyball state title in 2014. It was a different basketball season then 2013 when the Monarchs flew under the radar. When the Monarchs won in basketball in 2014, it was a sense of relief for Bohle.
Nowadays, it’s easy for him to see why it’s considered a fan favorite. The nine lead changes of a back-and-forth contest, which featured two uber-athletic teams littered with collegiate athletes even has Bohle taking a step back and admiring it some.
“It’s nerve-wracking. It is,” Bohle said. “It’s a nail-biter, but man, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was awesome.”