Patience pays off

Patience is not a word the Our Redeemer’s Christian School girls basketball team likes to use when describing its approach on the court.

But that’s what the Knights had to exhibit to get by District 12 opponent Des Lacs-Burlington on Monday, defeating the Lakers 52-47.

With her team clinging to a five-point lead with less than 20 seconds to play, eighth-grade guard Morgan Olson punched the ball away from DL-B’s Courtney Mitchell to end DL-B’s upset bid while pushing ORCS’ win streak to three.

While the Lakers were able to break the Knights’ full-court press in the first half, the same could not be said in the latter end of the game. DL-B committed 32 turnovers with the majority coming in the second half.

“Our girls started to realize that they needed to pick it up,” ORCS coach Kory Nelson said. “The game was going to be closer than we thought it was going to be.”

The Knights – who pride themselves on pushing the ball up the court as quickly as possible – found themselves in a slow-paced, half-court battle throughout the contest. Neither team shot the ball particularly well, especially from behind the 3-point line. ORCS hit three 3s – all in the first half – and DL-B went scoreless from behind the arc.

“(DL-B) definitely didn’t want us to run,” Nelson said. “We got out a few times. Our press really helped us tonight. It saved us.”

The Knights (10-4 overall, 4-1 district) had few opportunities to run in transition as most of their possessions started off a dead ball or made shot. ORCS had zero points in transition in the first quarter. The Knights tallied their first points of the game three minutes, five seconds into the contest on a 3-pointer by Jenny Skees.

“I thought we played really well in our transition game,” DL-B coach Shawn Kuhnhenn said. “If we would have been a little more patient offensively, we could have maybe maintained. (ORCS) was having trouble stopping our half-court offense. If we would have been a little more patient, we would have been all right.”

The Knights ran into foul trouble in the first half with senior forwards Emily VanLith and Ashley Koppinger picking up two fouls in the opening eight minutes. Senior Stephanie Jesperson – playing in her first game with the varsity after playing with the junior varsity team earlier this season – stepped in and contributed five points off the bench. Jesperson pointed to the defense for ORCS’ win.

“We tried really hard on defense and we got a lot of stops,” Jesperson said. “It led to turnovers and the defense played really well.”

Nelson said Jesperson’s performance was much bigger than the statistics showed.

“She gave a little bit of relief for Ashley (Koppinger) and Emily (VanLith) to be able to sit down and be able to see the game from the bench and focus,” Nelson said. “When Ashley gets frustrated, she can turn it on and can do some amazing things.”

Trailing 11-8 after the first frame, ORCS was able to – albeit briefly – score a few transition baskets to take its first lead of the contest. Koppinger scored the first bucket of the quarter and Olson’s steal and layup put ORCS in front. Olson finished with a team-high 19 points.

Olson’s second 3-pointer of the game broke a 13-13 tie. The Knights wouldn’t relinquish the lead from that point on.

Courtney Vogel led the Lakers (5-9, 1-4) with 19 points.

The Knights host Bottineau on Thursday and the Lakers play Surrey on Saturday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.