Heartbreak at the state tournament

by Jared Marshall, for the Devils Lake Journal
Chiara Olson puts up a jumper from the arc.

One week after their showdown in the EDC semi-finals, the Devils Lake Firebirds girls basketball team found themselves matched up against a familiar foe, the Fargo Davies Eagles. Devils Lake came into the game with an 18-7 record, fresh off their opening round game at state with Mandan that they lost 68-46. Fargo Davies has a 21-4 record on the year. They ran into a hot-shooting Bismarck Legacy team in their opening round game, losing 68-36.

The Firebirds outworked the Eagles from the jump, getting an early 12-7 lead. With a little over six minutes to go, Devils Lake clung to a 20-17 lead. They continued to lead throughout the rest of the first quarter, winning the defensive struggle between the two teams.

Two minutes to go in the half, the score was 26-20 in favor of the firebirds. Davies scored a bucket at the buzzer to trim the Devils Lake lead 30-25.

It was a high scoring start to the second half. Davies came out and made a quick 5-0 run, but Devils Lake was up to the task and answered with baskets of their own. With 13 minutes left, the Firebirds led 40-35.

The frantic pace continued as both teams continued to find their groove offensively after a sluggish first half. The Devils Lake lead hovered around five points for the most of the half, until Davies made a run and tied the game with under two minutes to go.

Free throws would plague the Firebirds down the stretch and they went 1-7 in the second and missed two front ends in the end. Despite that, they still held on to a 55-53 lead with under 30 seconds to go. Davies went on offense with one chance to tie or win the game. After a drive and kick, the Eagles buried a three pointer as time expired to win in heartbreaking fashion 56-55 over Devils Lake.

Mattea Vetsch led the Firebirds with 16 points and Alex Palmer chipped in 11 points.

“The girls played hard, and I thought we outplayed Davies the whole game," said head coach Justin Klein after the game."We struggled shooting down the stretch and it gave them the chance they needed to win it. This was another very successful season. We will miss the leadership of our two seniors Alex and Macy.”

With the loss, the Firebirds season ends with a record of 18-8. This team made their second consecutive trip to state and have a lot of promise for the future despite the loss of two seniors.