Top five moments of the 2015-16 DL and LRSC seasons

Sam Herder

Sam Herder

Journal Sports Editor

Photos from each performance can be found on page 6 of today's Journal.

5. DL girls hockey gets first win in 3 seasons (Dec. 17, 2015)

The Devils Lake girls hockey team made massive strides in the 2015-16 season. The Firebirds had nearly eight times the number of goals compared to the 2014-15 season and increased its assists from two to 27.

The improvement for the young team led to its first win in three seasons against Jamestown on Dec. 17.

DL was all over the Blue Jays from the start with a 7-1 victory.

Eighth grader Calli Forsberg scored four goals in the game and led the Firebirds with 20 goals on the season.

The Firebirds also got a great performance from Molly Black in the net, who didn’t allow a goal until three minutes left in the game on a power play.

“The whole team played well and we were fired up to play this game,” DL head coach Rob McIvor said after the win. “We knew we had a pretty good chance of success against Jamestown, and we came ready to play hard."

4. Goal line stand gets Jake Wateland first win (Aug. 28, 2015)

After eight years as an assistant coach for the Devils Lake football team, Jake Wateland took over at the helm in 2015. In his first game as head coach, the Firebirds put on a memorable goal-line stand to get a 13-9 victory against Williston.

With less than two minutes to go, Williston had three plays to get five yards and take the lead.

But three straight runs were stuffed and the Devils Lake defense and sideline met in a frenzy on the field in front of its home crowd.

“It’s been a long offseason preparing for this job,” Wateland said after the game. “I’ve been really nervous about it and hoping the guys would buy in to what I’m telling them and expecting to win in close games. That’s what I talked to the defense about the last two times we had to break down with the timeouts, is to expect to win and to stop them. For those guys to do it, it’s a great feeling.”

3. Morgan Pedeliski’s half-court shot (Feb. 27, 2016)

A play that looked to be going nowhere ended up being the biggest shot of the Devils Lake girls basketball season.

In a home East Region play-in game against Fargo North, the tight contest went into overtime.

After a loose ball rolled all the way down to the opposite baseline, Devils Lake had four seconds on the shot clock to get off a shot. Senior guard Morgan Pedeliski received the inbounds pass, took a couple dribbles and swished her half-court heave as the buzzer sounded, giving the Firebirds a 60-55 lead with a minute and change to play in overtime.

The Firebirds went on to win 62-61.

“I was probably caught up with the officials trying to get the shot clock to reset,” DL head coach Justin Klein said. “But when she got the ball inbounds, I thought she would give it up because it’s tough for a girl to shoot a half-court shot. It was right on and went in and it was huge.”

2. LRSC women’s basketball goes to nationals (Feb. 28, 2016)

Behind a solid core of five sophomores and production from its freshmen class, the Lake Region State College women’s basketball team qualified for its third straight NJCAA Division I National Tournament.

The Royals finished the regular season 24-6 overall and 11-1 in the Mon-Dak Conference.

In the Region 13 Tournament to decide a national tournament qualifier, LRSC faced adversity twice, but fought through a tough shooting night to beat Williston State College 60-56 before beating an athletic North Dakota State College of Science team 73-63 to punch its ticket to the tournament in Lubbock, Texas.

"It's unbelievable," LRSC sophomore guard Kennedy Henningsgard said. "When the horn went off, it didn't hit me, but as soon as we got in that big hug, I thought about it that we're going to nationals and just started bawling."

1. Devils Lake boys basketball goes to state (March 5, 2016)

With four junior, but experienced, starters, many expected an improved season for the Devils Lake boys basketball team.

From the outside, maybe a run to the state tournament wasn’t an expectation.

But it was expected within the team.

The Firebirds used a dazzling shooting onslaught to begin the Eastern Dakota Conference season and were in second place. After teams adjusted, DL took some lumps at the end of the regular season, but was seeded No. 3 in the East Region Tournament.

After advancing to the semifinals and losing, DL defeated West Fargo Sheyenne 62-51 in a state qualifier game. It marked the first state tournament appearance for DL since 2007.

“We’ve always had a special feeling for this group,” Firebirds head coach Derek Gathman said after the game. “There’s that something there. I knew we could do so well this season. We had some tough stretches, but we came together as a team and got the win.”