Approaching its two toughest tests of the season, the Our Redeemer's Christian School boys basketball team yearned for a bit more momentum. One last confidence boost, if you will.
ORCS found it Monday night.
The Knights held visiting Sawyer to 13 points over the final three quarters, routing the Flashes 69-26 for their sixth straight win.
Our Redeemer’s Christian School senior guard Nick Stenvold drives baseline past Sawyer’s Dylan Lund on Monday at ORCS. The Knights won 69-26.
Senior Micah Jacobsen and junior Davis Koppinger poured in a game-high 14 points apiece for ORCS, which travels to No. 6 Berthold on Thursday and hosts No. 5 Des Lacs-Burlington on Jan. 28.
The Knights (13-2 overall, 4-0 District 12) allowed half of Sawyer's points in the first eight minutes, before hunkering down to force 17 of the Flashes' 20 turnovers the rest of the way.
"We talked there after the first quarter that we've got two huge district games coming up," ORCS coach Jeremy Feller said. "We're playing two ranked teams the next two nights. We needed to find our defensive groove."
Found it, they did; and in turn the Knights' offense heated up, as well.
The Flashes (4-8, 1-3 District 11) struggled to find open space and didn't convert a field goal the first seven minutes of the second quarter.
Meanwhile, ORCS churned out a 19-1 run over 6:04 - with the first 15 coming in succession - that pushed its lead to 35-14.
Koppinger and Jacobsen combined for 14 of those 19, most of which came on fast breaks.
"It's nice when one person starts going and the rest of the team can shoot with them," Jacobsen said. "It's a nice feeling when everyone's clicking on all cylinders and playing at the top of their game."
The Knights took a 37-16 lead into the break, but were just getting started. They scored 10 straight points out of halftime, the first four coming on transition layups by Koppinger. Sawyer's Paul Folden knocked down his second of two 3-pointers to end the run, but ORCS answered his trifecta with an 8-0 spurt. The Knights knocked down their first eight field-goal attempts in the second half and led 59-23 after three.
"Right away we got a couple easy defense-to-offense baskets," Feller said. "I think that just kind of jump-started us. We came out in the second half and executed offensively, but I think that's 'cause we picked it up defensively."
ORCS made Sawyer's Colton Lund the focal point of its scouting report and held the junior guard to seven points. Sophomore Josh Ulmer paced the Flashes with nine.
"We talked at halftime about priding ourselves on guarding Lund," Feller said. " ... There's a lot of good scorers in our district we're gonna have to defend the next two nights. We put three, four guys on (Lund) just so they'd all get a look at a better basketball player like that."
ORCS' lengthy sophomores exploited Sawyer's undersized defense, as 6-foot-2 guard Josh Vanlith posted 10 points, 6-foot-6 center Jon Reiten added eight and Nathan Demme and Ben Talley - both taller than 6-foot - chipped in six points each.
Now the Knights turn their attention to Berthold (13-0) in what is certainly their most challenging test so far. ORCS has outscored opponents 220-92 in its past three games, though, and has the extra boost of confidence it was searching for.
"The last three games we had were good team wins and it's gonna give us a lot of momentum going into Berthold this week," Koppinger said.
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.