After a victory Friday at home, the Devils Lake boys basketball team is 6-5 in the EDC.
By Harry Lipsiea
For the second time this season, the defense Devils Lake boys basketball team broke an all-time program record. The Firebirds gave up the fewest points in a single game Jan. 14 against Wahpeton in a 57-27 victory. On Friday evening, the squad did one better holding Grand Forks Central to just 26 points in a 65-26 conference triumph at home.
After 12 games of the season, it's clear that it's been a tale of two halves for the Firebirds. Devils Lake gave up an average of 64 points per game in its first six contests. After a 2-4 start, the team has won four its last six. The biggest difference has been the Firebirds' defensive output holding teams to an average of just 46 points per contest.
"I think the kids have seen that defense can be our thing," Devils Lake head coach Derek Gathman commented. "Early this year, we were a team looking for our identity. I think our guys have done an excellent job working their tails off to limit opponents with their defense. It's been great to see our guys buy in like that."
The Devils Lake defense was on full display Friday evening. Even when the shots weren't falling early on, big stops by the home team kept the Firebirds in the driver's seat. As the first half went on steals led to transition buckets by Zach Dahlen and Hunter Fee. A late scoring surge to end the final 18 minutes gave the Firebirds a 37-8 advantage.
"Anytime you can limit a team to eight points in a half, you are doing things right on defense," Gathman said. "Our defense really fueled our offense. It see the temp for the rest of the night. I was very proud of that effort."
Devils Lake continued to control the action in the second half. Central was able to find some success beyond the arc, but it wasn't enough as the home team cruised to a 65-26 victory.
Dahlen finished with 17 points. Jacob Mertens also hit double figures with 13 points. After that, it was very balanced for the Firebirds. Jagger Miller scored eight points while Preston Reierson and Fee scored six points apiece. Noah Widmer added five points while Nik Desai and Damon Sobolik finished with four. Britian Idland rounded out the scoring with two points.
Gathman was pleased with his team's approach throughout the game.
"We told the guys in the locker room that there are no easy games in the EDC," Gathman stated.
"Our guys had a business-like approach and did what they had to. I was very proud of the way of we didn't get too high or too low again. It was a really nice effort."
The Firebirds, now 6-5 in the EDC, are gearing up for a road game Tuesday against Fargo South. Devils Lake defeated the team earlier this season 77-57 at home. The Bruins have given some of the conference's best teams headaches during the year despite a 3-9 record.
"Fargo South is playing very well right now," Gathman said. They are a team that likes to get up-and-down the court and use their athleticism. It's a tough EDC game on the road against a nice team. We will have to be ready to go."