Hot shooting Roughriders end Firebirds home unbeaten run

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Devils Lake's Grant Nelson blocks the layup attempt to Red River's William Obioha during the first half of a NDHSAA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 in Devils Lake.

With the game tied going into halftime, Devils Lake was in position to keep its record at home unscathed. Then Red River went downtown.

The Roughriders made seven of their 12 3-pointers in the second half to blow by the Firebirds 76-59 Tuesday, Feb. 4 in boys basketball. It was the first loss by the Firebirds inside the Sports Center this season.

“I thought we battled and worked hard but they were hitting shots and we couldn’t do much about it,” said Firebirds head coach Derek Gathman. “It wasn’t like they were open shots, we were contesting them.

“Just have to tip a cap to them shooting wise.”

Cole Benson scored 28 points for the Roughriders, including half of the team’s 3s. Benson scored 10 points over the final 4:39 of the first half, with his 3-pointer with two seconds left tying the score at 27 going into halftime. The Roughriders (9-5, 8-4 Eastern Dakota Conference) made 3s on three of their first four possessions of the second half, and a field goal by Brady Dvorak with 14:11 remaining pushed Red Rivers’ lead to nine.

The Firebirds got within five but couldn’t get over the hump.

North Dakota State University commit Grant Nelson was the only Firebird in double figure scoring, finishing with 27 points. Both Kyler Longie and Michael Widmer scored eight points.

“I think when we play good teams like that, our first action aren’t going to be open. They’re able to guard that first set that we run so we have to be patient on top of that, be patient in our offense so we’re able to get some stuff and make them defend a little more,” Gathman said.

“When you play a good team like that, you have a smaller margin of error. You have to play a sound game and it’s the little things that add up.”

After a Nelson basket gave the Firebirds (9-6, 9-5) the 11-9 lead, Devils Lake led the rest of the first half, going up six with 3:43 left. But Red River ended the half on a 6-0 spurt to tie it.

Dvorak scored 17 points and William Obioha finished with 14 points for Red River.

With the loss, the Firebirds are in fourth place in the conference, four games back of co-leaders Fargo Davies and West Fargo Sheyenne with six games to play. Two of those six are against the aforementioned Eagles and Mustangs both at home.

Chris Harris can be reached at

Red River at Devils Lake box score

Red River   27 47 — 76

Devils Lake  27 32 — 59

RED RIVER (9-5, 8-4)

Benson 28, Dvorak 17, Obioha 14, Enerson 7, Springer 5, Parks 3, Steckler 2. Totals 26 12-21 76.

DEVILS LAKE (9-6, 9-5)

Nelson 27, Longie 8, Widmer 8, Frelich 5, Heilman 5, DeCoteau 2, Hoover 2, Fee 2, Newton 0, Steffan 0, Hanson 0, Hofstad 0. Totals 25 2-6 59.