Grant Nelson scored 27, Leif Nelson scored 18 in Devils Lake's win over Valley City.

In the Devils Lake 74-60 boys basketball win over lowly Valley City Friday, Feb. 1, there were some good and some bad for the Firebirds.

For the good, brothers Grant and Leif Nelson combined to score 45 of the Firebirds points, with Grant scoring a game-high 27. The Firebirds also built a 21-6 lead over the Hi-Liners over the first nine minutes of the ballgame.

The bad … the Hi-Liners outscored the Firebirds 14-9 to end the first half to trim the lead down to 10 before halftime.

“We can’t seem to get out of our own way,” said Firebirds head coach Derek Gathman. “I thought our defense was really good but it seemed as if we’ll shoot ourselves in the foot every time. Our defense was fine even with foul trouble but we’ll go and turn it over.

“I told the guys at half, you can’t do that and win most games. The second half was a little better.”

The Firebirds (8-6) opened their advantage in the second 18 minutes to 16 after a Leif 3-pointer with 16:34 on the clock. The Firebirds maintained their double-digit lead for the remainder the contest with  Valley City getting no closer to within 10 late in the game.

“We did enough to win. Those guys (Valley City) are undersized but they go after it and they battle. So a credit to those guys. They give everyone a good game,” Gathman said.

Leif finished with 18 points and Josh Dahlen had 14 for Devils Lake, which has won two in a row going into a stretch of three games in five days. Tonight, the Firebirds are hosting Grand Forks Red River, in a makeup game that was postponed last Tuesday due to the Polar Vortex. On Tuesday, they will be on the road facing West Fargo.

“We want to go to the state tournament, we have to win three games in three days so it’s almost the same thing,” Gathman said about the quick turnaround. “So I enjoy these. It’ll show our mental toughness and it’ll show what we can do.”

Three players scored in double figures for the Hi-Liners, led by Peyton Zaun’s 16 points. Samuel Beierle and Avery Bennefeld each had 13 apiece as Valley City fell to 2-14 for the season.

Chris Harris can be reached at and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ

Valley City at Devils Lake box score

Valley City 20 40 — 60

Devils Lake 30 44 — 74


P. Zaun 16, Beierle 13, Bennefeld 13, D. Zaun 7, Eggermont 6, Diegel 5, McGough 0, Thornton 0. Totals 16 24-28 60.


G. Nelson 27, L. Nelson 18, Dahlen 14, Frelich 8, Greene 5, Aanstad 2, Hanson 0, Widmer 0, Shepherd 0, Heilman 0, Bjornson 0, Zimmerman 0. Totals 25 10-17 74.