Mertens’ 18 leads Devils Lake’s girls to 81-40 win

Ray Maloney, Sports
Devils Lake’s Jacklyn Knowski applies defensive pressure to Wahpeton’s Tawny Irwin during first-half action of Saturday’s game at the Devils Lake Sports Center. Knowski scored 14 points and helped the Firebirds force the Huskies into 20 turnovers while posting an 81-40 win.

Despite encountering some bus trouble on its way to the Lake Region and arriving late for its scheduled tipoff against Devils Lake, the Wahpeton girls basketball team hung around and made things interesting for the first seven minutes of Saturday’s game at the Devils Lake Sports Center.

Stephanie Mertens added to the Huskie’s woes with a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers that signaled the beginning of the end for Wahpeton as the Firebirds came away with a 81-40 win over the Huskies.

The win improved Devils Lake to 6-3 in the Eastern Dakota Conference and 9-5 on the year.

Mertens began to break open a tight game as she scored eight of her game-high 18 points in a span of just over two minutes in the first half as Devils Lake ran away from an 8-8 deadlock.

A pair of free throws by Kasi Eisenzimmer at 14:04 left in the half gave the Firebirds the lead for good and set the stage for Mertens’ outburst.

The 5-7 junior got a shot to go high off the glass to widen the lead to 13-8 with the free throw at 13:47.

Hannah Elshaug got a shot to somehow find the net on the next trip down the floor for a 15-8 advantage.

That was when Mertens stepped up — from downtown. She drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner for the first of her game-high three 3-pointers, and followed that with another long-range shot for the other side the next time down the floor as Devils Lake opened a 21-10 advantage with 11:43 remaining in the half.

The Firebirds led 46-20 at halftime as Wahpeton never seriously challenged the rest of the way.

“We shot the ball pretty well,” said Devils Lake coach Scott Privratsky, whose team finished with 49 percent shooting for the game.

Devils Lake connected on 34 of 69 shots from the floor, while Wahpeton finished with with just 24 percent shooting on 15 of 62 field goal attempts.

“Jacklyn (Knowski) ran the break well,” Privrastsky said, “and, (Eisenzimmer) penetrated the ball very well and those two things seemed to be the difference.”

Knowski and Eisenzimmer both finished with 14 points to also finish in double figures for the Firebirds.

Wahpeton was led by Tawny Irwin’s 12, whiel Ashley LaHaise added 10 points.

Devils Lake travels to Grand Forks Central for a Tuesday matchup against the Knights.

Wahpeton (40): Tawny Irwin 12, Ashley LaHaise 10, Marie Lommel 8, Shanna Krogh 4, Seri Berchem 3, Alison Kretchman 3.

Devils Lake (81): Stephanie Mertens 18, Jacklyn Knowski 14, Kasi Eisenzimmer 14, Haley Prozinski 8, Madison Walford 8, Mackenzie Wade 6, Krissy Larson 4, Hannah Elshaug 4, Alexis Fee 3, Chelsea Kurtz 2.

3-pointers: Wahpeton 3 (Lommel 2, Irwin 1), Devils Lake 5 (Mertens 3, Knowski 1, Fee 1). Rebounds: Wahpeton 38 (Lommel 7), Devils Lake 54 (Elshaug 8). Fouls: Wahpeton 13, Devils Lake 16. Fouled out: none. Assists: Wahpeton 5 (Megan DeVillers 2), Devils Lake 20 (Eisenzimmer 5). Steals: Wahpeton 11 (Lommel 5), Devils Lake 9 (Mertens 4). Blocked shots: Devils Lake 0, Devils Lake 2 (Prozinski 1, Walford 1). Turnovers: Wahpeton 20, Devils Lake 20.

Halftime: Devils Lake 46-20