Strong second half start leads to win for No. 4 Davies over DL
By Sam Herder
Journal Sports Editor
In the first half, it was the Devils Lake girls basketball team’s defense which left No. 4 Fargo Davies flustered. But roles reversed in the second. The Eagles capitalized on turnovers in an early 10-0 run which proved costly for DL. Davies (13-3, 13-2) used the run to hold off the Firebirds (7-10, 7-9) in a 77-70 victory in Eastern Dakota Conference action.
“The kids played hard and played with intensity and they followed the game plan well,” Firebirds head coach Justin Klein said. “We kind of had the game right where we wanted it. We played a really good first half. But we hit a lull in the second half.”
The Firebirds applied ball pressure in the first half. By disrupting passes, DL rode several deflected passes to gain the upper hand. But like a top team in the EDC will do, the Eagles made adjustments at halftime with the scoreboard reading 31-29 in DL’s favor.
The Eagles were more crisp on offense and turned it up a notch on defense. After a 35-35 tie three minutes into the second half, Davies went on a 10-0 run in the next three minutes of play.
“They got us there for that first five minutes,” Klein said. “And then we struggled on offense, too. They mixed up their defense and they trapped at the top. We kind of panicked a bit. Once we figured it out, then it was okay.”
The Firebirds kept with it, making mini runs of 4-0, 5-0 and 6-0. The last run brought them to a 53-51 deficit with five minutes, 20 seconds to play after Emily Schafer scored four straight points. But DL could never get that game-tying possession when in striking distance due to untimely turnovers.
“We were right there and that’s where you want to be at home,” Klein said. “We just didnt execute and turned the ball over and let it slip away.”
With a minute remaining, the juice looked to be out for the Firebirds. They trailed 70-59. But Mikayla Wallace, who had a team-leading 21 points, gave her team a chance at the end. Her 3-pointer made it 70-62 with 54.8 seconds left. DL trapped the ensuing in-bounds pass and drew a jump ball with the possession arrow in its favor.
Wallace then hit another 3-pointer with 45.3 seconds left to cut the deficit to 70-65.
“She’s the one we want shooting,” Klein said. “She’s struggled at times shooting the ball from the outside, but she is a good shooter. We have a couple plays for game situations like that to get her the ball. We did and she gave us a chance.”
The Firebirds fouled to put the Eagles at the free throw line, where they made 1-of-2. Down six with 40 seconds left, DL failed to get a shot on its next possession when Davies forced another turnover.
The Eagles went on to hit key free throws in the remaining seconds to preserve its cushion and earn a 77-70 win.
The game was a vast improvement compared to DL’s 82-56 loss at Davies in early January.
“It was a totally different game and we’re a totally different team right now than when we were at the beginning of the season,” Klein said. “We’ve got a big game Friday at (Grand Forks) Central, because that’s a team right below us.”