CLINTON — Coach Gerry Murphy thought he caught a stroke of fortune when, less than two minutes into the first quarter against Springville, top Orioles big man Elias Nissen picked up his second foul, giving him ample bench time.
“We got their big kid in foul trouble and I’m thinking ‘Hey, that helps us out an awful lot,’ “ Murphy said. “I’m on the bench thinking, ‘We couldn’t have planned that any better.’ “
But there was no luck for the Irish, who learned a valuable lesson during their 65-44 home loss Friday night:
Spot a team like Springville an 11-0 run in the first quarter and expect to lose.
Defensively, the Irish were slow to their spots. On offense, they missed numerous open looks.
“They were sprinting, and we were walking,” Murphy said. “We dug a big hole. ... Fundamental mistakes that shouldn’t happen at this stage of high school basketball.”
Despite logging limited minutes in the first half, the 6-foot-6 Nissen still finished with a game-high 16 points. He single-handedly punctuated the now 4-0 Orioles’ win with back-to-back alley-oop dunks in the fourth quarter, both on feeds from teammate Greg Pauly.
According to Springville coach Nick Merritt, the Orioles tend to do that to people. But he won’t go so far as to call his team “the real deal.”
“We’ve got a really good group of athletes,” Merritt said. “We’re at kind of a point now where we’re no longer that younger team.”
After Andrey Drury finally put the Irish on the board, with 4:12 left in the opening quarter, his team slowly began chipping away. Prince of Peace trimmed its deficit to 37-23 at the break, and stormed to within 10 in the third quarter.
Then, Nissen re-emerged, showcasing his post prowess en route to a 12-point second half.