Hanging on


That was the word Our Redeemer’s Christian School senior guard Chris Olson used to describe his team’s play in the second half of a less than impressive 74-68 win against Velva on Tuesday night.

Content with a 16-point halftime lead against a now 1-8 Aggies team and with four starters owning three fouls each, the Knights lost the aggressiveness that built them their lead.

“We just came out too slow,” Olson said. “We gotta be able to come out second half still firing up.”

ORCS (8-2) allowed Velva to creep within three with 8.9 seconds left in the third. The Knights’ lead was 63-59 with four minutes, 51 seconds left before Aggies misses and ORCS foul shots enabled the Knights to walk out with a victory.

Still, it was the third game in a row that left something to be desired. After a 7-0 start, ORCS lost convincingly to Dickinson Trinity and Shiloh Christian before its narrow home escape.

“Since Christmas break, we haven’t been the same,” Knights coach Jeremy Feller said.”I told them afterwards, ‘No one here looks like they even want to be here today. This looks like me forcing you (to play).’ It was frustrating.”

For the second straight contest, ORCS was forced to play without 6-foot-3 freshman center Ben Talley, who is out another week with a concussion. In his place, the Knights found offense from two unconventional places.

Olson, making his first start of the season, scored a season-high 14 points, including a stretch in the second stanza where he scored nine straight ORCS points. Sophomore forward Davis Koppinger tallied a career-high 16 points in Talley’s place.

“Without our big post, other people get the ball more,” Koppinger said. “I just got the ball down low and got my points from there.”

The Knights built their lead defensively, using a full-court trap defense Feller installed in Monday’s practice to produce steals and transition buckets. But when Velva broke halfcourt and ORCS retreated into its base defense, it got foul-happy. Four starters – Tanner Strand, Olson, Micah Jacobsen and Josh VanLith – entered halftime with three personals.

“First half tonight defensively, we were awful,” Feller said. “16 fouls in the first half is normally more than we commit in a game. We were just not very sharp defensively.”

With a bench limited by playing-time limits (due to quarters played in the junior varsity game), the Knights used the trap sparingly in the third quarter, fearing the worst.

“If we would’ve kept fouling, we might have been playing with four guys,” Feller said.

Olson and Koppinger were two of five ORCS players in double figures. Strand had 12 points, while Jacobsen and VanLith each had 10. ORCS opens district play at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Kenmare.

Michael Thingstad led the Aggies with 16 points. Tucker Wojahn and Chris Peterson each had 13 for Velva, which plays at TGU on Friday.