Firebirds get back above .500 after win over Hi-Liners

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Devils Lake's Michael Widmer shoots and makes a three-pointer over Valley City's Mitchel Taylor (3) to end the first half in a NDHSAA basketball game Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 in Devils Lake.

Devils Lake head coach Derek Gathman gave a new meaning of what EDC stand for after Monday night’s victory over Valley City.

“I told the guys that EDC stands for ‘Every Day Counts.’ No matter who you are playing, rather they be the first place team in the EDC or the last place team in the EDC, you have to come and earn your win everyday and Valley City proved that tonight.”

The Firebirds got the 66-52 win over the Hi-Liners due to a three minute push midway the second half that finally determined a game where bottom dweller Valley City remained a breath away for most of the night.

“I thought Valley City battled. They had a real good game plan in stopping Grant (Nelson) at the rim and it frustrated us a little offensively so credit coach (Alex) Quist and his team but I was really happy about how hard our guys worked defensively,” Gathman said.

“The game was pretty but we battled defensively and if we do that, we’re gonna be okay.”

Nelson, the North Dakota State commit, finished with 21 points but he didn’t score his first basket untilthe 9:12 mark of the first half in scoring 10 over the first 18 minutes. The Hi-Liners (2-9, 1-8 EDC) trailed by two after a free throw by Peyton Zaun at 15-13 with 5:51 left before halftime. But the Firebirds (5-4, 5-3) outscored Valley City 17-10 down the stretch thanks to 17 first half points by senior Michael Widmer including back-to-back 3-pointers, the final as the halftime horn sounded that gave the Firebirds the 32-23 lead into the locker room.

Jared Eggermont’s basket with 11:53 left in regulation made it a five point deficit for the Hi-Liners but the Firebirds went on a 16-9 run from that made field goal to just over the six minute mark to seal the win.

Kyler Longie came off the bench for the Firebirds to finish with 10 points — all in the second half.

Zaun finished with a team high 15 points and Eggermont scored 12 points for Valley City, which has lost six of its last seven games.

Chris Harris can be reached at

Valley City at Devils Lake box score

Valley City 23 29 — 52

Devils Lake 32 34 — 66

VALLEY CITY (2-9, 1-8)

P. Zaun 15, Eggermont 12, Thornton 10, Bitz 6, Diegel 5, Taylor 4, D. Zaun 0, McGough 0. Totals 19 9-16 52.

DEVILS LAKE (5-4, 5-3)

Widmer 22, Nelson 21, Longie 10, Heilman 6, Fee 4, Frelich 3, DeCoteau 0, Hanson 0, Hofstad 0, Hoover 0. Totals 23 15-19 66.