Devils Lake boys outmatched by West Fargo Sheyenne
Coming into the game against No. 5 West Fargo Sheyenne, Devils Lake knew they had a tall task ahead of them both literally and figuratively. The Mustangs start an imposing front line of 6-foot-8-inches, 6-foot-9-inches, and 6-foot-10-inches, where the Firebirds do not start anyone over 6-foot-3-inches. Firebirds Head coach Derek Gathman knew coming into the game the keys would be to keep them off the boards and limiting their turnovers.
Early on, it looked like the young Devils Lake squad was up to the task. Freshman Drew Hofstad nailed a pair of 3's and Devils Lake took an early 6-5 lead forcing a timeout from Mustangs head coach Tom Kirchoffner. Visibly frustrated with his team, he implored them to play with more energy and that is exactly what they did coming out of the break.
They would put a press on Devils Lake scoring a quick four points off two turnovers causing Gathman to take a timeout of his own. Out of the timeout, the Mustangs would push the lead to 15-6 with 11 minutes remaining in the half. The Firebirds would rally with a 6-2 run to bring the score back 17-12 with eight minutes to go.
Devils Lake would go cold for the next five minutes, turning the ball over and missing shots. They were visibly bothered by the length of Sheyenne and could not keep up with their big men in the post. Senior forward Jacksen Moni would score 12 points in the first half, most of which came in the post. Finally, the drought for the Firebirds would end but the damage had been done. The Mustangs would take a commanding 48-19 lead into halftime.
It did not get much better after halftime. The turnovers would continue to mount against the Firebirds and the Mustangs would take advantage. They would jump out to a 23-7 advantage highlighted by a Jacksen Moni fast-break dunk they would force a Devils Lake timeout with West Fargo Sheyenne leading 71-26.
The Firebirds would show signs of life throughout the rest of the second half but in the end, Sheyenne was just too much to handle. Devils Lake would commit 30 turnovers throughout the game. The final score West Fargo Sheyenne 103 Devils Lake 41.
Drew Hofstad would lead the Firebirds in scoring with 12 points followed by Aiden Bryce Volk with eight points. For the Mustangs, Moni would lead them with 24 points followed by Gage Anderson with 18 points.
“In the second half I wanted to see us compete,” Gathman said. “I thought we continued to play hard and our guys never quit. We are going through some growing pains right now, trying to figure out who we are. As a team and as coaches we just have to stay positive and keep working. I thought Drew Hoftstad and Ben Heilman did some good things for us tonight. We are just looking for an identity and some guys to step up consistently for us.”
With the win, West Fargo Sheyenne moves to 2-1. Their next one is at home vs. Fargo Shanley on Dec. 31. Devils Lake will come back from holiday break a little sooner to square off against Fargo North on the road on Dec. 29.