Late Knight thriller

Our Redeemer’s fends off TGU in opening round of Region 6 tournament, 59-56

Justin Martinez/MDN Our Redeemer’s senior Matt Hendrickson (11) goes with the soft touch in the paint during the Knights’ 59-56 win over TGU on Monday in the opening round of the Region 6 boys basketball tournament at the Minot State Dome.

After shooting lights out to start the game, the Knights now found themselves on the defensive.

The Our Redeemer’s boys basketball team seemed poised for a first-round rout on Monday during its game against District 11’s No. 3-seeded Towner-Granville-Upham in the Region 6 tournament at the Minot State Dome.

But the path to the semifinals proved to be far more turbulent than expected for the No. 2 seed out of District 12, as the Titans nearly erased a 17-point deficit. With their lead shrinking by the minute, the Knights held on and secured a 59-56 win.

“We had a great first half,” ORCS head coach Brody Bosch said. “And then I think we just got happy with having that big lead and let off the gas a lot. That’s one thing you can’t do this time of the year.”

The six days between Our Redeemer’s epic District 12 tournament run and Monday’s game didn’t cool off the Knights one bit, as shots fell like swimsuit prices in the winter to start the contest.

Landon Lang delivered the opening haymaker by scoring eight of the Knights’ first 14 points. The highlight came at the 4:30 mark, when the junior pivoted down low for positioning and finished the chip shot.

Lang stayed alert on the next defensive possession, saw that TGU turned the ball over and raced toward the rim. The junior caught the fast break pass in stride for the easy layup, giving Our Redeemer’s a 14-2 lead.

With the Knights now leading 23-10 in the second quarter, Matt Hendrickson chimed in. The senior drilled two early triples in what was a 12-point quarter for him, and the Knights entered halftime with a commanding 39-25 advantage.

“It doesn’t really matter who scores the points for us,” Lang said. “We’re just five guys on the court playing for one team, and we just wanted to jump out on (TGU).”

The second half wasn’t so easy for Our Redeemer’s, though. A different TGU team came out of the tunnel to start the third quarter, as the Titans slowly chipped away at the double-digit deficit.

Shayden Luna jump started the comeback. The 5-foot-9 senior guard scored at will against a helpless Our Redeemer’s defense and totaled eight points in the quarter.

The scoring burst proved contagious, and the Titans ended the quarter on a 13-3 run to make it a 47-40 affair entering the final frame.

“Luna is one of the hardest guys to guard,” Hendrickson said. “Props to him for just working his butt off the whole game, even when they were down.”

That’s when Zach Hendrickson got the Knights back on track. The freshman guard got the fourth quarter started with a mid-range jumper that kissed the glass and dropped through the rim to make it a 49-40 game.

Zach delivered once more on the Knights’ next possession. This time, the 5-foot-10 scoring machine drained a deep two-pointer that gave Our Redeemer’s a 51-42 edge with 7:15 remaining.

“To me, (Zach) is not a freshman anymore,” Bosch said. “He has really grown up this year, he has a really good jump shot and he’s mature enough to know when it’s time to get in the zone.”

Undeterred, the Titans kept attacking.

Now trailing 57-52 with 1:10 left to play, Luna intercepted a pass and took it to the house for the fast break layup. After a made close-range jumper by Our Redeemer’s sophomore Levi Weekley, Luna answered with a mid-range money shot to make it a 59-56 ball game with 44.6 left in regulation.

TGU got a defensive stop on the other end and had a chance to send the game into overtime, but a triple by senior Tanner Schock from the left shoulder sailed right and missed its target entirely.

The Knights survived.

Luna finished with a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds in the loss, while Schock added 12 points. Matt Hendrickson led the Knights with a team-high 23 points and six rebounds. Lang and Zach Hendrickson also broke double-digit points with 16 and 12 points, respectively.

For the Knights, the late-game scare is a wakeup call as the team now prepares to take on District 11’s No. 1-seeded Rugby today at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals.

“(The comeback) definitely put a little bit of grit in our teeth,” Matt Hendrickson said. “We don’t want that to happen, and it never should. It’s going to be hard (against Rugby), but it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.