As the final buzzer sounded at the Our Redeemer's Christian School gymnasium on Tuesday, Knights seniors Chris Olson, Logan Sorum and Tanner Strand couldn't hold back their emotions.
The trio hugged their teammates in celebration of a couple accomplishments never before achieved by ORCS. The 56-34 win against Bishop Ryan was the program's first win over its crosstown rivals.
"It means so much," Sorum said while fighting back a tear, "My goal this season was basically to win the last game of the season. I think that we did all of that. We showed up and played as a team.
Our Redeemer’s Christian School’s Nick Stenvold (3) and Tanner Strand (32) trap Bishop Ryan sophomore Brenden Backes during the Knights’ victory Tuesday at ORCS.
"We played 32 minutes. I thought we played incredible."
Nick Stenvold's ability to leak out on the fast break created three layups in a 9-0 ORCS first-quarter spurt. That run gave the Knights a 13-8 lead they never relinquished thanks in part to the hot hand of Strand.
Stenvold picked up a large portion of the load in the first half, where he scored 12 of his 13 points. Sorum stepped up after the break, when he totaled nine of his 14.
But Strand, also playing in his final home game, was a constant the whole contest. His eight-point first period propelled him to a game-high 20 points.
His final shot, a fadeaway from just inside the 3-point line at the top of the key, swished through the net and served as the final dagger in ORCS's school-record 13th victory.
"I was feeling it," he said. "Yeah, I can (feel it). It just feels like the hoop's gi-normous."
ORCS (13-6 overall, 5-3 District 12) took a 14-point lead into the half against a different Ryan lineup than Knights coach Jeremy Feller expected through most of the game.
After struggling through three quarters in a loss against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood, Lions coach Scott Medalen promised a different starting five for Tuesday. That proved to be accurate.
Medalen cut multiple players from the varsity team leading up to the contest. Brody Bosch, who has been a starter all season, started the game alongside Tyler Daws, Brenden Backes, Nick Berentson and Matt Niess. Each saw significant playing time.
"We expected a different change of people," Feller said. "We didn't expect it to be so long in the first quarter. We thought it'd be a couple-minute lesson. ... It definitely wasn't what we prepared for. We prepared for not only a different lineup but a different style of basketball game. Just credit the team that they were able to adjust."
Ryan closed to within 10 entering the final frame, but the ORCS defense surrendered just two points in the fourth.
The Knights clinched the No. 3 district seed with the win. Ryan (9-9, 3-4) closes out its regular season Friday at Velva.