Whistle after whistle. Foul after foul.
That was the way the game unfolded between the Our Redeemer’s Christian School girls basketball team and visiting Tioga on Thursday night in a game that ORCS coach Kory Nelson called “ugly at times.”
But the Knights (3-1) overcame 21 team fouls and pulled away in the second half en route to a 62-35 victory in ORCS’ first game of the calendar year. Eighth-grade forward Morgan Olson paced the Knights with 17 points (15 in the first half) and junior guard Jenny Skees added 11. Skees hit a game-high three 3-pointers.
“The intensity was one of the keys,” Skees said, “just teamwork and getting up the court and running it as fast as we can. That really made a difference.”
Neither team had much of a chance to establish an offensive identity early in the game with the constant whistles. The Knights committed 10 fouls in the first stanza alone and all five starters had at least two fouls at halftime. Senior forward Billie Bangen picked up her third foul with 17 seconds left in the first quarter and sat out the rest of the half.
“(Fouls) hurt us because we couldn’t get into a flow of any sort,” Nelson said. “We like to run and get out and go, but the game constantly kept stopping because it was our issue. We were fouling way too much and it’s one of the things we talked about at the quarter break. We have to move our feet. We can’t stand there and reach.”
Tioga (1-4) hung around with its free throw shooting. Eight of Tioga’s 10 first-quarter points came from the charity stripe.
The Pirates had their own share of foul trouble, but didn’t have the number of bench players that the Knights possessed. With just seven players on the roster and Sierra Ourada committing her fourth foul with 4:22 left in the third frame, Tioga had limited options.
“We had to go to an extremely small lineup for a while,” Tioga coach Brodie Odegaard said. “Our Redeemer’s is so aggressive sometimes you can use their aggressiveness against them. I thought maybe if we spread the floor and attack a little bit we’d be able to score some from the free throw line, which we did, but they’re a good team.”
The teams combined for 37 fouls.
Leading by just seven points at the end of the first period, the Knights found their stroke from behind the arc. Olson hit her second 3-pointer of the game to spark a 10-0 run, capped off by Skees’ first 3 of the night.
“The 3-pointers were huge because the girls settled down,” Nelson said. “We started to play our style of basketball. Part of it was we took the game for granted thinking we were going to come out and (Tioga) was going to fold right away. They did a great job at not folding and we had to prove ourselves.”
Defensively, ORCS forced 33 turnovers by throwing a number of different looks at the Pirates. Whether it was full-court man-to-man pressure or a half-court 2-3 zone, the Knights made life difficult for Tioga. ORCS held the Pirates to 16 points in the second half.
The Knights play at 2 p.m. today in the Shiloh Invite against Dickinson Trinity.