Brothers Leif and Grant Nelson combined to score 36 points in Firebirds win over Wahpeton 64-50.
In a game when the scoring punch wasn’t quite there, Devils Lake had the brothers.
Leif Nelson scored 21 points, Grant Nelson had 15 and the Firebirds came away with the 64-50 win over Wahpeton Friday, Feb. 8, from the Sports Center.
“I thought Grant and Leif played tough down low,” said Firebirds head coach Derek Gathman. “We were able to get easy looks against them and to me, if Grant and Leif both can be guys to both score in the paint and shoot 3s, that makes us pretty dang tough to guard.”
Leif connected on two 3s, Grant made one and both, along with Josh Dahlen who was the only other Firebird scorer in double figures, scored all but three of Devils Lake’s points in the first half. A Michael Widmer 3-point play transformed a six point lead into a nine point margin with 8:40 left in the first half, an advantage that the Firebirds maintained into halftime.
Up 14 in the second half, the Huskies went on a 10-2 run that cut Devils Lake’s lead to six.
“We knew (the run) was coming but I thought we recovered well. We didn’t let it fall apart,” Gathman said.
The Firebirds responded with an 8-0 spurt to put them back ahead by 14 with 5:56 left in the game.
“To me, that’s what you have to do. You’re going to have teams make a run on you but as long as you slow them down and make your own run back,” said Gathman.
“It shows growth in our kids. They’re seeing what it takes to beat themselves. You’re seeing their mental game growing.”
The Huskies victory came off of the heels off a 31-point loss to West Fargo three nights before. The win also put the Firebirds a half game back of Grand Forks Red River for fourth. The Firebirds host Red River Monday (Feb. 11) night.
“There is a mess in the EDC at the four through seven right now so getting those wins against the teams that are in the same spot as us are huge for us,” Gathman said.
Dahlen finished with 12 points and Widmer had eight for the Firebirds who are now 9-7.
Bryce Rader scored 15 to lead the Huskies (7-9).
Chris Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ
Wahpeton at Devils Lake boys score
Wahpeton 22 28 — 50
Devils Lake 31 33 — 64
Rader 15, Darwin 10, Bartels 7, Matejcek 7, Manock 5, Hoerer 2, Desire 2, Cornelius 2, Dowell 0. Totals 18 11-16 50.
DEVILS LAKE (9-7)
L. Nelson 21, G. Nelson 15, Dahlen 12, Widmer 8, Aanstad 3, P. Hanson 3, Frelich 2, Greene 0, F. Hanson 0, Bjornson 0, Zimmerman 0. Totals 23 12-15 64.