No. 2 Firebirds keep Eagles at bay to remain perfect

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Devils Lake's Ramsey Brown (24) shoots over the outstretched arm of Fargo Davies' Makayla Selensky (5) during the first half of a NDHSAA girls basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Devils Lake.

No. 2 Devils Lake didn’t hit Fargo Davies with its usual tidal wave as it did the night before in a 32 point win over Valley City, but one minor surge Tuesday, Jan. 21 proved to be the game clincher.

The Firebirds ended the first half on a 14-4 run that gave them enough cushion against a late Davies rally as Devils Lake came away with the 91-76 win. The victory kept the Firebirds solely planted atop of the Eastern Dakota Conference standings and ensure them the top spot in the Class A girls basketball poll for the first time this season.

“I didn’t expect that we would need to score 91 points but I do think we’re capable of scoring points like that but a lot of those points in the end came kind of being a layup drill once we broke the press,” said Firebirds head coach Justin Klein.

Jailyn Martinson finished with a game high 26 points and Abby Johnson scored 22 points as the 91 points were the most the Firebirds (9-0, 9-0 EDC) have scored this season but it was out of necessity as the Eagles turned an early 20 point second half deficit in half twice over the final 8:40 of the game.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Johnson and Maya Barendt gave the Firebirds a 52-32 lead with 15:31 remaining. The Eagles turned on the press and begin chipping away at the lead, cutting it to 66-56  and then after an Ellen Donat free throw with 6:32 left that made it 72-62.

“We had some kids in foul trouble and we got a little tired so it was tough to sub and keep kids fresh because we used a lot of energy but taking care of the basketball and press break was the things we needed to do a better job of but then we started to do that,” Klein said.

A second Barendt 3 put the Firebirds back ahead by 13 and were never threatened again.

The game was tight over the first 18 minutes. After a Ava Wild basket with 6:36 left in the first half, the Firebirds advantage was only two, 26-24. Up four with 5:03 on the clock, the Firebirds 14-4 spurt gave them the 44-30 halftime lead.

The two teams combined to shoot 74 free throws for the game, 36 in the second half while making almost identical number of shots (29-25 Devils Lake).

“Our bench needs to give us some offensive production and I think our post defense is weak right now. Our post defense isn’t good enough and that’s going to be an issue,” said Klein.

Jes Mertens scored 15 points and Ramsey Brown added 11. The Firebirds’ bench was outscored 11-5. 

Wild, the 6-0 sophomore, scored 22 points for the Eagles, 15 coming in the second half. Taylor Fey, the 6-0 junior, added 17 points as Davies (7-4, 7-3) which had its two game winning streak snapped.

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Fargo Davies at No. 2 Devils Lake box score

Fargo Davies 30 46 — 76

Devils Lake 44 47 — 91

FARGO DAVIES (7-4, 7-3)

Wild 22, Fey 17, Wacha 16, Koenig 10, Donat 5, Selensky 4, Simle-Askew 2, Leingang 0, Safranski 0. Totals 25 25-37 76.

DEVILS LAKE (9-0, 9-0)

Martinson 26, Johnson 22, Mertens 15, Barendt 12, Brown 11, L. Gourd 3, Wilhelmi 2, Krogfoss 0, M. Gourd 0. Totals 29 28-37 91.