Firebirds get past Knights 67-44

Ray Maloney, Sports
Devils Lake’s Calvin Crawford (22) tries to cut off the progress of Grand Forks Central’s Brady Johnson during first half action of Tuesday’s game at the Devils Lake Sports Center. Crawford and the Firebirds forced the Knights into 19 turnovers en route to a 67-44 win.

Two things crucial to success in any athletic endeavor are being found by the Devils Lake High School boys basketball team. And at the right time.

Devils Lake won for the second time in as many outings as the Firebirds used a big first half on their way to a 67-44 win over Grand Forks Central on Tuesday at the Devils Lake Sports Center.

The win improved the Firebirds to 3-5 in Eastern Dakota Conference play and 4-9 on the season. Grand Forks Central dropped to 1-9 on the league and 1-13 overall.

“We’re starting to play much better and doing a better job of understanding our roles,” Devils Lake coach David Bitz said.

Jacob Jaromo got the Firebirds rolling with a short jumper in the opening minute for the first points of the game. But the Knights quickly tied the game at 2-2 before the Firebirds began to pull away.

Devils Lake scored the next six points of the game to take an 8-2 lead and never looked back. The Firebirds led 31-18 at the intermission.

That 13-point halftime bulge quickly grew to a 22-point advantage as Devils Lake scored 11 of the first 13 points of the second half.

Taylor Hoffart led that charge with eight points in a span of 1:25, including a pair of 3-pointers on successive trips down the floor.

Hoffart finished with a game-high 26 points, including connecting on all six 3-pointers by the Firebirds on the night.

Ben Erickstad also finished in double figures with 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Firebirds, who enjoyed a 47-26 rebounding edge in the game.

Derrick Yeager and Kyle Lajimodeire finished in double figures for the Knights with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

“It was a lack of effort on our part,” Central coach Dan Carlson said. “We were too slow on defense. But, give (Devils Lake) credit, they came out and wanted it and we didn’t.”

Devils Lake hits the road for a pair of games this weekend. The Firebirds play at Wahpeton on Friday and tangle with West Fargo on Saturday.

“We will be tested,” said Bitz of the games against the Huskies and Packers. “It will be a good barometer of where we are at.”

GF Central (44): Derrick Yeager 11, Kyle Lajimodeire 10, Brady Johnson 8, Sean Norton 5, Ken Smith 3, Mark Bushaw 3, Aaron Muz 2, Drew Jaeger 2.

Devils Lake (67): Taylor Hoffart 26, Ben Erickstad 16, Tyler Mertens 6, Brantley Light 5, Dylan Ironheart 5, Jacob Jaromo 4, Nathan Mertens 3, Tate Cichos 2.

Halftime: Devils Lake 31-18

3-pointers: GFC 3 (Lajimodeire 2, Johnson 1), DL 6 (Hoffart 6). Rebounds: GFC 26 (Johnson 6, Jaeger 6), DL 47 (Erickstad 9). Fouls: GFC 11, DL 19. Fouled out: Cichos. Assists: GFC 12 (Lajimodeire 3), DL 14 (Jaromo 6). Steals: GFC 7 (Johnson 3), DL 6 (six with 1). Blocked shots: GFC 4 (four with 1), DL 1 (Cichos). Turnovers: GFC 19, Devils Lake 10.

Devils Lake’s Calvin Crawford (22) tries to cut off the progress of Grand Forks Central’s Brady Johnson during first half action of Tuesday’s game at the Devils Lake Sports Center. Crawford and the Firebirds forced the Knights into 19 turnovers en route to a 67-44 win.