Our Redeemer's Christian School junior Davis Koppinger gave up plenty of size to TGU forward Luke Bacon, but that didn't stop the 6-foot-2 forward from winning the battle on the boards Tuesday.
Koppinger recorded 11 points and 16 rebound for the Knights, who defeated the Titans 63-54 in the season opener for both teams. Bacon - at 6-6, 250 pounds - was one point shy of a double-double, finishing with nine points and 10 boards.
"I have a higher jumping ability than some people so I didn't care too much," Koppinger said of playing against Bacon. "I played against him last year and got a few rebounds, so I just did the same thing this year."
Our Redeemer’s sophomore Nathan Demme gets trapped by TGU’s Hunter Schell, left, and Colter Thorp during the Knights’ home win Tuesday.
ORCS (1-0) never trailed, but couldn't shake TGU in the first three quarters. 3-pointers by sophomore guard Josh VanLith and senior guard Micah Jacobsen helped ORCS grab an early 8-2 advantage. A basket by Jacobsen later in the frame pushed the Knights' lead to nine.
The Titans (0-1) stayed within striking distance in the first half as senior Ethan Bachmeier and junior Colter Thorp combined for 12 points in the first 16 minutes. Thorp's final basket of the half knotted the game at 21 with 6 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Knights responded with a VanLith 3 and led 31-28 at the break.
"These kids are fighters and they fought the whole game," TGU coach Michael Corum said. "There's a lot of new things we're putting in. There's a lot of changes that happened and I just want everyone to know these kids fought the whole time."
Thorp finished with a team-high 16 points.
TGU threatened to take its first lead of the night midway through the third quarter after senior Kendal Green hit a 3 to tie the game at 39. But Koppinger's ability to pull down rebound after rebound kept the Titans playing catch-up.
"He pulled down a lot of rebounds that were up there in the air," ORCS coach Jeremy Feller said. "He extended and got those for us. We knew Bacon was going to be a problem for us down low. If Davis doesn't get 16 rebounds, Bacon gets six or eight more points and then you have a close game."
The Knights were without sophomore post players Dalton Steede (illness) and Ben Talley (injury).
ORCS used a 17-2 run to push its lead to 56-41 midway through the fourth quarter. The Knights utilized their speed with transition layups during the run. Senior guard Nick Stenvold had all 10 of his points in the second half - many coming on fast-break baskets.
"We just found the open guards," Koppinger said. "In the first half we weren't really looking for them, but in the second half we realized it and got it to them for fast breaks."
ORCS' starting five accounted for 57 of its 63 points. Jacobsen led the way with 18 points.
"All in all we're happy with our first game," Feller said. "We're missing a few guys tonight. We didn't got as deep into our bench as we had planned, but I think the guys that played showed they're in shape.
"We played a pretty uptempo game for most of it. That's where our lead came. We wore them down a little bit and got a lot of nice transition layups in the third and fourth quarters."
Feller said the stat that stuck out the most to him was that six players recorded an assist.
The Titans play in the CNDC tournament beginning Thursday and the Knights travel to play Parshall on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.