Johnson scores 16 second half points, help carries No. 1 Firebirds in comeback win over No. 4 Deacons

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Devils Lake's Abby Johnson stands on the perimeter looking to make a play against Shanley's defense during the first half of a NDHSAA girls basketball game, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 in Devils Lake. Johnson finished with 22 points for the game.

Over the course of the previous 38 games, the Devils Lake girls basketball team has suffered only two losses. Friday night against fourth ranked Fargo Shanley, it was epitomized as to why.

With everything missing from shots (10 of 32) to free throws (5 of 12) over the first 18 minutes, Devils Lake found itself in a 14 point hole three minutes into the second half. Then came the climb back.

Spearheaded by senior Abby Johnson, the No. 1 Firebirds used a 15-0 run over a five minute stretch in the second half to propel them to the 70-66 come from behind win over the Deacons and complete the regular season sweep.

“One thing in the second half, we got the ball quicker in transition and we attacked a little bit more but I think half court wise, our half court offense was better,” said Firebirds head coach Justin Klein. “We moved the basketball, we looked underneath a little bit more and attacked stronger.

“We had some high percentage shots. … We shot better.”

Trailing 45-31 after a field goal by Moriku Hakim with 15:03 left, the Firebirds (12-0, 12-0 Eastern Dakota Conference) began their charge. Jailyn Martinson’s two free throws at 11:10 made the score 53-39. Then Johnson scored 10 of the Firebirds next 15 points, including a 3-pointer with 6:37 remaining that gave the Firebirds the 54-53 lead, their first lead since it was 12-11 eight minutes into the game.

Johnson, who scored 16 second half points and finished with a game high 22 points, also completed a 3-point play with 3:01 remaining to tie the game at 61 and connected on her fourth 3 of the contest 49 seconds later that gave the Firebirds the five point cushion.

“She (Abby) just kind of took over the game really. It was from the free throw line, it was outside, it was taking the ball to the hole. She did a good job running the point. She stepped up as the senior leader, as the captain needed to do,” Klein said.

Martinson scored 12 points in the second half to finish with 20.

“We learned that some kids can step off the bench and help us. And one thing that I found out again is that these kids don’t want to lose. We’re 12-0 and we don’t want to lose. When we’re undefeated everybody is gonna put their best A game out for you,” said Klein.

Hakim scored 18 points, Reile Payne had 14 points and both Hadley Huber and Lydia Mattern each finished with 10 points for the Deacons, who outscored the Firebirds 18-11 over the final 7:31. The loss ended a five game winning streak and dropped their record to 9-3 overall and 8-3 in the conference.

Chris Harris can be reached at

No. 4 Shanley at No. 1 Devils Lake box score

Shanley 36 30 — 66

Devils Lake 29 41 — 70

SHANLEY (9-3, 8-3 EDC)

Hakim 18, Payne 14, Huber 10, Mattern 10, Dabbert 6, Manuel 4, Srejma 4, Hoedl 0. Totals 24 11-13 66.

DEVILS LAKE (12-0, 12-0)

Johnson 22, Martinson 20, Mertens 7, Dahlen 7, Barendt 6, Brown 4, Krogfoss 2, L. Gourd 2. Totals 23 17-27 70.