Ramsey Brown helps lift Devils Lake over the Coyotes in the quarterfinals of the Class A girls state basketball tournament.
BISMARCK — Devils Lake threw the first haymaker. Williston countered to get back into the game.
Then the Firebirds hit them with a couple of doses of Ramsey Brown for the knockout.
The Firebirds beat a game Williston 73-50 Thursday afternoon in the opening quarterfinal game of the Class B girls state tournament from the Bismarck Event Center.
The Firebirds, who jumped out to a 21-9 lead over the first eight minutes of the game, saw their lead cut all the way down to three with just over four minutes left before halftime.
“I told them to stay with the trap and stay with the press,” said Firebirds head coach Justin Klein to try to wade through the Coyotes momentum stealing wave. “I think one thing was finishing. We had a few trips down the court where had some shots but didn’t finish and it was kind of a domino effect and then we struggled after that a little bit.”
Jailyn Martinson made two free throws that gave the Firebirds their 20th and 21st point with 10:19 on the clock. The Firebirds scored once over the next six minutes while being outscored 11-2 during that stretch. A Emily Jaeger free throw made it a three point game with 4:38 left until halftime.
The Firebirds (24-1) went into the locker room with an eight point advantage.
“In the second half, I thought we did a much better job with the half court trap and we converted those little more uncontested shots and that led to a little momentum and we got after it,” Klein said.
Brown was the spark that lit the fuse to a second half run that broke the Coyotes back. Brown, who finished with 18 points but accounted for 10 more with her five assists, opened the second half on a personal 7-2 run, which was part of a larger 10-2 run, that turned an eight point lead into a 16 point margin.
Brown also had eight rebounds and four steals.
“That second half run was huge. … Ramsey passed up some shots early on in the post and I think she got in a groove in the second half and I think that really helped us,” said Klein.
Taylor Windjue scored 15 points and Jess Mertens scored all nine of her points in the second half. Mertens also had eight steals as the Firebirds forced 33 Williston turnovers. Martinson also finished with nine points and five rebounds.
“I think it was a good win for us; to finally get a first round win, Klein said. The Firebirds were beaten the previous two seasons in the state quarterfinals, including last year to eventual state runner-up Mandan which lost its quarterfinal game to West Fargo Sheyenne 75-61.
Makia Remus scored 18 points before fouling out and Jalyn Helstad scored 15 points and had seven rebounds for the Coyotes (13-13) who shot 9-for-23 in the second half.
Chris Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ
Williston vs Devils Lake box score
Williston 26 24 — 50
Devils Lake 34 39 — 73
Remus 18, Helstad 15, Jaeger 5, Douglas 5, Strand 4, Davis 2, Carvey 1, Meyer 0, Powers 0, Snellings 0. Totals 20 7-17 50.
DEVILS LAKE (24-1) Brown 18, Windjue 15, Martinson 9, Mertens 9, Vetsch 9, Heilman 7, Johnson 2, Olson 2, Krogfoss 2, Swenson 0, Mal. Barendt 0, L. Gourd 0, May. Barendt 0. Totals 28 13-23 73.