There was plenty of history made for the Our Redeemer's Christian School boys basketball team in its 82-74 victory at Bishop Ryan on Monday.
It marked the first time the Knights had come away with a road win against their crosstown rival. It also locked them into the No. 2 seed in the District 12 tournament - the highest finish in program history. Lastly, the victory broke the recently established school record for wins in a single season, set last year.
In his final chance to defeat the Lions on their home court, ORCS senior Micah Jacobsen recorded a team-high 24 points, knocking down five free throws in the final minutes to secure the victory. The Knights were 21-for-27 from the free-throw line.
Our Redeemer’s junior Davis Koppinger goes up for a shot over Bishop Ryan senior Jake Magnuson Tuesday at Bishop Ryan.
"It's really meaningful for me," Jacobsen said of the win. "It's something I get to hold on to for my career."
The teams swapped leads 10 times and drew even six others. Neither team led by more than nine points - a 79-70 advantage for the Knights in the final minutes. Ryan's largest lead was four midway through the third quarter.
"I felt like we played pretty good basketball for 32 minutes," ORCS coach Jeremy Feller said. "Obviously, defensively we missed some assignments throughout the night, but that's basketball. You're not going to defend perfectly every possession. Offensively, the kids are very unselfish. Ball movement was excellent and led to a lot easy buckets."
The Knights (16-3 overall, 6-1 District 12) led by as many as five early in the second half before the Lions began feeding the ball inside to junior Jared Will. The 6-foot-4 forward scored 10 of his 17 points in the third quarter, maneuvering around the long arms of ORCS sophomore forwards Ben Talley (6-4) and John Reiten (6-6). Reiten made his first appearance since being injured against Berthold on Jan. 23.
Will staked Ryan (12-5, 4-3) a 55-51 lead - its largest of the game - only to have Jacobsen knock down a 3-pointer and junior forward Davis Koppinger hit two free throws to retake the lead. ORCS sophomore Nathan Demme gave the Knights the lead for good as they held a 60-59 lead after three quarters.
"We just kept working and figured, with our conditioning, we could run up the court as much in the second half as we did the first half," Jacobsen said. "It was close the whole game, but we pulled it off in the end and it feels pretty cool."
ORCS opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, prompting Ryan coach Brock Teets to use a timeout. Teets said he's still waiting for his team to buy in to his defensive mindset.
"It goes back to what I've been saying the past few weeks: Defensively, we haven't made the commitment yet and until that happens, we can't move on," he said. "Our Redeemer's just outplayed us. They beat us off the dribble early and got that lead on us. We just weren't ready to go with our feet."
Seniors Brody Bosch and Austin Eggl and sophomore Tyler Daws hit from distance to keep the Lions in it, but Jacobsen, Koppinger and senior Josh VanLith matched them shot for shot to hold on for the win. The ORCS trio combined for 63 points. Bosch led the Lions with 24.
"They just made more plays than us," Teets said. "They deserved it. They're the second seed in our district and they earned it. We're the 4 seed and, guess what, we earned that. Our Redeemer's was a better team than us tonight and that was pretty obvious."
ORCS held the lead for the majority of the first half. The Knights scored the first six points of the game and took a 15-9 lead on sophomore forward Ben Talley's first basket of the game midway through the first quarter. The Lions responded with a 9-0 run to take their first lead of the contest at 17-15. ORCS reclaimed the lead 21-20 at the end of the first quarter and held a 41-37 advantage at halftime.
"Just an overall great day," Feller said. "It's hopefully going to be a good momentum builder going into districts. Our focus in districts is we don't care in which order, just win two games and the third game we'll worry about later. Let's win two games to guarantee ourselves (a spot in regionals). Anything can happen from there. There's a lot of good basketball teams in this region, our district especially."
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.