The mission for the Our Redeemer's boys basketball team this season is clear.
Last February, the Knights were painfully close to reaching the Class B Region 6 tournament for the first time since 2007. All that stood in the way was protecting a 17-point halftime lead.
But Glenburn rallied, pulled within four after three quarters and finished the deed soon after. The scoreboard read Panthers 63, Knights 58, signifying an end to the ORCS campaign.
Our Redeemer’s senior Logan Sorum spots up for a shot during the Knights’ practice on Wednesday.
The Knights hope that painful memory serves as a rallying cry for a different result this time around.
"It's definitely a big motivation factor," senior Tanner Strand said. "Knowing you were up by that much and just fell apart. It's a big driving factor for the team."
Anchoring the ORCS lineup will be a trio of familiar faces. Strand and fellow senior Logan Sorum made the all-district team as juniors while averaging double-digit scoring figures. They'll be joined by Chris Olson, a 5-foot-10 senior who will likely also start.
From there, the rotation gets young in a hurry. Freshmen Ben Talley, a 6-3 center, and Josh VanLith, a 6-1 guard, will start when the Knights (8-14 last season) travel to Sawyer for a game at 4:30 p.m. today.
Both VanLith and Talley played in the Glenburn district game and, from all accounts, that action has paid off in preseason practices.
"They've used that experience to get a lot more confidence," Sorum said. "They go up to the basket strong, play tough defense. They're doing everything I'm asking."
Knights coach Jeremy Feller said his team has 10 to 11 players he's comfortable rotating on the court. With that depth comes the ability to run a transition offense.
And Feller wants his team sprinting constantly.
"Our biggest strength is going to be getting out and running," Feller said. "We feel that we have a fast team, even with a couple guys that now provide us with some size down low. We feel that they can get out and run."
In a district with defending regional champion Berthold, a Des Lacs-Burlington team with state tournament expectations, a Bishop Ryan team that's always a threat and the aforementioned Glenburn, reaching regionals won't be easy.
But if things go according to plan, the Knights will grab one of those four spots.
"We think (fourth) is pretty realistic," Feller said.