Devils Lake rally falls short 76-66

Ray Maloney, Sports
Devils Lake’s Jordan Snyder (5), Ben Erickstad (21), Chase Johnson (14) and Nate Mertens (12), move into position to apply defense against Grand Forks Red River during Tuesday’s game at the Devils Lake Sports Center. Devils Lake from a 17-point deficit to pull within two points before falling 76-66.

There simply was not enough gas in the tank.

Devils Lake spotted Grand Forks Red River several big leads, battled back to within two points, but ran out of energy as the Roughriders escaped the Devils Lake Sports Center with a 76-66 win over the Firebirds on Tuesday.

“Take away the beginning of the game and we played pretty well,” Devils Lake coach Josh Johnson said. “We fought and we battled back.”

Devils Lake tied the game twice in the early going on baskets by Ben Erickstad. But, a 3-pointer by Mack Arvidson from the top of the key at 14:27 in the first half gave Red River a 5-4 lead and the Roughriders would led the rest of the way.

Arvidson’s trey started a 13-0 run that extended Red River’s advantage to 15-4. The lead would eventually grow to 25-8 on a pair of free throws by Matt Hanson at 8:36.

“Defensively, we gave (Red River) too much,” said Johnson, whose team fell to 0-11 on the season. “We allowed (the Roughriders) to be the aggressor.

Devils Lake closed to within 32-26 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, but was not able to get any closer before halftime.

Red River led 42-33 at halftime and pushed the lead to double digits early in the second half and looked to be on the verge of running away with the win.

Erickstad drained a field goal from the right win to start the Firebirds on their comeback trail. His basket, at the 13:27 mark, pulled Devils Lake to within 52-41 and a short pull-up jumper from Nate Mertens moments later got Devils Lake to within 52-44 with 11:12 remaining.

Ryan Brown connected on a 3-pointer with 9:27 to go to close the gap to 55-49 and Erickstad added a spinning jumper in the lane with 5:35 left in the game to pull Devils Lake to within 59-57.

That is when the fuel gauge hit the bottom mark.

Hanson drained a 3-pointer to start a 9-2 run as Red River virtually put the game away.

Red River connected on nine 3-pointers in the game, while Devils Lake was successful on five attempts from long range.

“I think we showed a lot of character,” Johnson said. “We’ve just got to string together 36 minutes and we will be alright.

“We led (Fargo) South at halftime and then simply imploded,” Johnson added, “(Tuesday) we started slow and then battled back. I think we have some potential, we just have to be more aggressive and make better decisions.”

Erickstad paced the Firebirds with 27 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

“He’s just an animal,” Johnson said of Erickstad. “There is no question he is a player who gives everything he has.”

Mertens, along with Jordan Snyder, also finished in double figures for the Firebirds. Mertens scored 15 points, while Snyder added 14.

Mac Kroeplin led all scorers with 29 points in the game, while Arvidson and Hanson ended the contest with 18 and 16 points, respectively.

Devils Lake travels to Fargo on Thursday to take on Fargo North.

GF Red River (76): Mac Kroeplin 29, Mack Arvidson 18, Matt Hanson 16, Ricky Farroh 6, Brian Lillemoen 4, Ben Hillebrand 3.

Devils Lake (66): Ben Erickstad 27, Nate Mertens 15, Jordan Snyder 14, Ryan Brown 6, Chase Johnson 4.

3-pointers: Red River 9 (Hanson 4, Arvidson 2, Kroeplin 2, Hillebrand 1), Devils Lake 5 (Brown 2, Snyder 2, Mertens 1). Rebounds: Red River 31 (Lillemoen 9), Devils Lake 31 (Erickstad 15). Fouls: Red River 19, Devils Lake 14. Fouled out: none. Assists: Red River 17 (Kroeplin 5), Devils Lake 17 (Snyder 6). Steals: Red River 9 (Farroh 2, Arvidson 2, Hillebrand 2), Devils Lake 5 (Mertens 2). Blocked shots: Red River 0, Devils Lake 2 (Mertens 1, Erickstad 1). Turnovers: Red River 14, Devils Lake 16.

Halftime: Red River 42-33