Devils Lake Journal Player of the Week: Laila Gourd, Devils Lake

Staff Report
Devils Lake Journal
Devils Lake girls basketball defeated Grand Forks Red River, 61-59, on Jan. 19 at Devils Lake High School.

The lake region has spoken. Picking up almost 90 percent of the overall vote, Devils Lake girls basketball senior forward Laila Gourd has been named the Devils Lake Journal Player of the Week. 

While Gourd has been a force under the net for the Firebirds this season, playing a part in the team's 10-0 record and No. 2 rankings in the state, the forward recently broke a school single-game rebounding record. In a 62-59 win over West Fargo on Jan. 26, Gourd recorded 21 pulldowns (13 offensive rebounds and eight defensive rebounds), breaking the previous record of 20 set by Coleen Chaske. 

"She did an awesome job finding an area to go when the shot went up," Firebirds head coach Justin Klein said. "It wasn't like she just ripped them out of mid-air. She was just that player that knew where to go. She did a very good job sensing where the ball was coming and keeping us in that game." 

As her height as height inside the paint has been key for Devils Lake, Gourd has stepped into a 3-point shooting role that the Firebirds have been rotating around the roster. Gourd's heavy rebound game against the Packers was complemented by a handful of shots from deep.

"That night against West Fargo she actually stepped outside because they [West Fargo] didn't guard her and she hit a couple of outside shots which helped a lot," Klein said. "Just because of our personnel, she's had to play a little more at 3, which is good because she can go inside and outside." 

The Firebirds have been nearly unstoppable, as they have gone 60-3 since the 2018-19 season. This includes a second-place finish at state in 2019 and a state finals appearance in 2020. Devils Lake has two more regular-season home games: Feb. 5 vs. West Fargo Sheyenne and Feb. 11 vs. No. 3 Fargo Davies.  

Congratulations to Gourd, and finalists Ezura Rainbow (Four Winds/Minnewaukan), Dane Hagler (North Star/Starkweather), and Ben Heilman (Devils Lake). 

The Devils Lake Journal hosts its Player of the week contest on a weekly basis. The athletes nominated and/or given the award are based on that athlete's performance from the prior week. Ballot nominations are submitted Sunday through Monday and finalist voting starts Tuesday and ends Wednesday. The winner is announced Wednesday at noon. 

The following programs can be nominated for DLJ PotW: Devils Lake, Benson County, Dakota Prairie, Lakota, Nelson County, North Star/Starkweather, Langdon/Edmore/Munich, Four Winds/Minnewaukan, and New Rockford-Sheyenne. Follow along on Facebook and on Twitter for the release of the weekly ballot. 

If you have any questions or comments about the Devils Lake Journal Player of the Week contest, contact Jack Williams at JGWilliams1@gannett.com.