Dominating the boards

Velva’s outside shooting Tuesday could be described the same way one would classify the weather – ice cold.

But the Aggies overcame a dismal night from the perimeter and from behind the 3-point arc by dominating the offensive glass and getting baskets near the rim in a 56-47 victory over the Our Redeemer’s Christian School girls basketball team in a non-district matchup.

“We just had trouble shooting all-around,” Velva coach Chris Braaten said. “The last time we faced them, we couldn’t score. I guess you just keep firing them up and hope they go in. We had to get a few offensive rebounds and try to give us a second or third opportunity at times.”

The Aggies (16-2) entered the fourth quarter trailing 38-36, but scored a game-high 20 points in the fourth to pull out the victory. Velva scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter before the Knights cut it to three. But junior guard Cassidy Peterson’s 3-pointer midway through the quarter – Velva’s only made basket from behind the 3-point line – deflated ORCS. The Aggies led by as many 11 down the stretch.

“We just had to keep our heads up,” Peterson said. “Not every game is going to be all easy baskets. Sometimes things go bad and it’s good for us come tournament time where we have to fight back.”

Velva opened the game on a 10-1 run and seemed poised to turn the contest into a laugher. The Aggies established their inside game early as 5-foot-11 senior Jaylen Newman scored six of the team’s first 12 points. Newman controlled the paint, pulling down offensive rebounds and providing second-chance scoring opportunities for the Aggies. Newman had a game-high 17 points, nine of which came in the first quarter.

“Rebounding in any game, offensively or defensively, if you can get yourself a few more opportunities, that’s going to help you out,” Braaten said. “If you can limit their opportunities that’s going to give you a better chance as well.”

The Knights stayed within 10 points despite Velva’s early run, but turnovers and fouls kept ORCS (13-5) playing catchup. The Aggies were in the bonus with more than three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The momentum began shifting toward the Knights following a 3-pointer by eighth-grade guard Morgan Olson to cut the Aggies’ lead to six early in the second quarter.

“Once we got the team settled down after the first quarter, they started to realize that they could run with (Velva) and do stuff we had talked about all week,” ORCS coach Kory Nelson said.

Velva went ice cold from the field in the second quarter, hitting just two shots. The Knights capitalized, outscoring the Aggies by 13 in the second frame to take a four-point halftime lead.

ORCS led by as many as eight in the third quarter before the Aggies started chipping away with full-court pressure that lead to fast-break baskets. Peterson tallied six of Velva’s 11 points in the third and finished with 13, going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

The Knights shared Velva’s shooting woes in the second half. ORCS made seven baskets in the game’s final 16 minutes and scored just 18 points during that stretch. Senior guard Billie Bangen finished with a team-high 14 points for the Knights.

“We didn’t slow the ball down enough in the half-court situations,” Nelson said. “We let them dictate what we were going to run. In the first half we took it at them. Second half, we didn’t do as good of a job.”

ORCS was without senior forward Stephanie Jesperson due to a foot injury, but Nelson said she should be back in the lineup for Thursday’s game.

The Knights host North Shore on Thursday and Velva travels to Des Lacs-Burlington on Friday.