Full roster effort blasts Devils Lake girls past Wahpeton
While the Firebirds are only two games into their season, they have been cruising. On Tuesday, Devils Lake dropped 96 points on Grand Forks Central, putting a handful of players into double figures. After falling a game short of the state championship in March, the Firebirds have not broken stride.
During their game Saturday against Wahpeton, it was looking like more of the same from Tuesday. At halftime, the Firebirds were up 31 points on the Huskies and had already put senior forward/guard Ramsey Brown into double figures with 12 points. Instead of keeping the starters on the court and widen the margin even more, Devils Lake decided to explore its depth and empty the bench.
Outside of the Firebirds starting five, eight other Devils Lake players on the varsity roster, the junior varsity roster, and the C-squad roster saw substantial playing time throughout the second half. The overall team effort led Devils Lake (2-0) to another blowout win over Wahpeton (0-3), 82-37.
"It was a good team effort tonight," Firebirds head coach Justin Klein said. "The score got a little lopsided so we dressed some more kids tonight and we got some young kids in tonight. They did a nice job and got a little taste of the varsity level. Wahpeton has some young kids starting and is rebuilding a little bit, so it was a good start for us again."
Freshmen guard Gabrielle McLaurin, eighth graders guard Tori Fee, and forward Cabryn Fritel was brought up from the C-Squad while freshman Jadyn Frelich, juniors center Erica Nelson, and guard Rebekah Widmer, who are also rostered on the JV squad, saw more playing time. Out of the fresh faces and group that came off the bench, Nelson highlighted the second half, downing eight points in the half to finish with 11 in the game.
Nelson's height and speed made her an easy target to score as she would be constantly crashing the boards in the second half to add to the Firebirds lead. Klein said she was flying all over the court Saturday night.
"I thought she did a great job attacking and crashing the boards," Klein said. "She was out there just flying all over. She works extremely hard on the court in practice and in games. It's rewarding to get out there and see her play."
While Nelson led the scoring charge in the second half, she also got help from those in a similar position. Widmer would throw down eight points in the half and Jadyn Frelich would finish with six points. Devils Lake's consistent varsity players who come off the bench got in the action as well as senior center Karli Krogfoss would finish with 10 points and senior guard Jenna Frelich would sink the Firebirds lone trey on the night.
In bringing up so many players for Saturday's game, Klein said that they can learn from those who are starting or are regular varsity athletes and understand what it takes to get to the varsity level, along with getting a taste of what it feels like to play at varsity speed.
"These younger kids who have dressed for the first time can learn a lot from the kids we have," Klein said. "We've had a lot of success over the last four years, so we've got some kids coming through the program who have seen what it takes to get there and what you need to do. Hopefully, that will rub off on some of these younger kids."
The bench did steal the show, but the starting five did provide a strong cushion early on in the game. Senior guard Ramsey Brown was the Firebirds go to under the net as she would knock down 12 points in the first half to finish with a team-high 14 in the game. Junior center Rachel Dahlen continued to be a consistent force under the net, scoring eight points in the first half to finish with 10 in the game. Similar to the last game, senior forward Jailyn Martinson kicked things off for the Firebirds, picking up a field goal and shooting 2-4 on the line in the first half, finishing seven in the game.
The paint play is something that the Firebirds have been able to rely on early on in the season and have it fill in for the void left in at 3-point range.
"When we are entering into the post or looking to enter into the post, we can't turn the ball over," Klein said. "There's a good chance you're going to score or get fouled when going into the post. We still have a little work to do on post pinning, but I think it's been a lot better."
One of the players the Firebirds were looking to move into that 3-point shooter role is senior guard Avery Swenson. She was set for that role before she sustained a knee injury in the Firebirds game vs Grand Forks Central, forcing her to sit out an undetermined amount of games. Klein said the team is still waiting on MRI results and where to go from there.
Klein is looking for people to jump into the shooting role before Swenson comes back and has said he hasn't found anyone yet but has seen good things. In their first two games of the season, Devils Lake has drained only three 3-pointers, all of which have come from Jenna Frelich.
"Playing Wahpeton we knew we could give some younger kids a chance and we saw few good things from a few kids today," Klein said. "I wouldn't say anybody is really filled in that role yet. Malayna Barendt has stepped into that role and did a really nice job attacking the hoop, and Brown played a little bit of that. It's going to take some time. It'll be a little different of a ball game Tuesday."
Tuesday's matchup for the Firebirds won't be the same as their first two games if the numbers are right as they are on the road at West Fargo Sheyenne. While the Mustangs are 0-2 on the season, their losses have come to No. 4 West Fargo and No. 2 Fargo Davies. In making sure the Firebirds are not caught off guard by playing opposition higher in the EDC standings, Klein said his team just needs to be prepared.
"We're going to watch and break down some film to know our assignments defensively," Klein said. "We need to apply pressure on the ball to get us going and get those steals. That way we can attack and score in transition. If we get into the halfcourt game, we'll look inside."
Devils Lake vs. Wahpeton stats
DL - 43, 39 - 82
WAH - 12, 25 - 37
Devils Lake scorers
Ramsey Brown - 14 points
Erica Nelson - 11 points
Rachel Dahlen - 10 points
Karli Krogfoss - 10 points
Rebekah Widmer - 8 points
Jailyn Martinson - 7 poinrs
Laila Gourd - 6 points
Jadyn Frelich - 6 points
Cabryn Fritel - 4 points
Jenna Frelich - 3 points
Malayna Barendt - 3 points
Scout Woods - 13 points
Lida Motl - 8 points
Aiyana Allard - 6 points
McKena Koolmo - 6 points
Haley Kjar - 2 points
Lataya Lunneborg - 2 points