ARLINGTON - Barely nestled into their seats in Starmont Thursday, Jan. 16, Springville boys basketball fans were already knew what the outcome of the Orioles’ contest against the host Stars was going to be.
Another impressive Tri-Rivers Conference rout.
“This was a make-up game from the previous Friday (Jan. 10), and we did a great job of coming out aggressive and really put the game away early,” said Springville boys basketball coach Nick Merritt, as his team controlled the contest from the opening tip racing to a 14-2 advantage a mere three-minutes in and never looked back cruising to a huge 83-44 victory.
“Our pressure in the first quarter, especially in the first half of the first quarter, was impressive as we forced a lot of turnovers giving way to some easy buckets. We did have some times in the first half where we were going bucket-for-bucket with Starmont, which kept the score reasonable, but putting up 50 first half points was nice.”
Early on however, it appeared the Orioles (8-3, 3-2) were able to score almost at will pouring in an impressive 30 first quarter points before taking a 50-26 advantage into the halftime break.
Alex Koppes was unstoppable, exploding for 18 of his game-high 28 points in the first two quarters of play when Springville asserted its dominance leading by as many as 26 points in the second quarter.
“We continued to play well in the second half in terms of pressure and tempo and gradually pulled farther away as the game wore on,” Merritt said. “From a shooting perspective, we shot very poorly, especially from the perimeter. However, our season-high 24 steals helped mask that problem in getting us easy shots around the rim.”
Which the Orioles got in high volume numbers as Koppes was 12-of-19 from the field and added seven rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocked shots to a phenomenal all-around contest.
Rhenden Wagaman drilled both of Springville’s lone two 3-point shots and finished with 19 points and seven steals while Luke Menster added 16 points, six assists and five steals.
As a team the Orioles were solid from the field connecting on 48-percent of their shots, though the team was 2-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Bryce Wilson came through with a team-high 12 rebounds to go with eight points, seven assists and three steals.
The week started with Springville’s toughest test of the season to date, hosting class 2A third-ranked North Linn Tuesday, Jan. 14, and for two quarters the Orioles proved they could play right with the talented Lynx.
“Obviously, playing a team with North Linn’s ability required us to play a near flawless game,” Merritt said. “Despite performing better than we have in previous years, we really struggled early to hit our shots as we started the game 3-for-15 from the field. That’s obviously not going to cut it as North Linn came out and shot the ball well early in the game.”
Yet Springville continued to stay within striking distance even with their shooting struggles, trailing just 35-23 at the break after falling into a 19-8 hole after the first eight-minutes of action.
“We were able to right the ship in the second quarter and keep it at a 12-point game at the half,” Merritt said. “We felt like if we could come out and hit a few shots early in the third, we’d be sitting well.
“Unfortunately, we were never really able to find our offensive stride and shot it pretty poorly all night. On top of that, we struggled to stop Austin Miller around the hoop, which ultimately ended our chances of getting this one against a highly ranked 2A team.”
North Linn reasserted their aggressiveness and went on a 22-10 third quarter run to lead 57-33 entering the fourth quarter.
“I was happy with our effort throughout and we did a nice job of keeping our composure with their pressure,” Merritt said. “While we still turned the ball over, we kept the turnovers to a reasonable amount but just could not knock down the shots we needed.
“Despite losing, I felt like playing that caliber of competition is going to benefit us moving forward and we are looking forward to another opportunity to play North Linn later in the season.”
Menster paced the Oriole offense scoring 13 points while Wilson and Wagaman added nine more each for the host offense.