No. 1 Eagles slip past Firebirds, 57-53

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Devils Lake's Grant Nelson misses on the block attempt of Fargo Davies Cameron Van Dam during the second half of a NDHSAA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 in Devils Lake.

For about 32 minutes, Devils Lake was knocking on upset’s door. The Firebirds had No. 1 Fargo Davies pinned against the wall, poised to give the Eagles just their second loss of the season. But the Eagles found a way to spread their wings in the end.

The Eagles used consecutive 3-pointers a minute, 38 seconds apart to put away the Firebirds 57-53 on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The four point margin was a far cry from the previous meeting back on Jan. 21 when the Eagles won that contest by 44 points.

“I’m really proud of my boys. I thought they battled,” said Firebirds head coach Derek Gathman. “That’s a really, really good team and we showed that we are right there with them on a good night. I can’t say enough about how hard they played and how tough they played.

“They didn’t quit but we couldn’t quite finish it off.”

The Firebirds (11-8, 11-7 Eastern Dakota Conference) led by 12 with 13:43 remaining in the game after Grant Nelson made one of three free throw attempts after being fouled on a 3-pointer. The lead remained 12 after a Hayden Hofstad 3 made the score 42-30.

The Eagles (18-1, 17-1) responded with a 12-0 run that culminated with a Ty Satter steal and layup. Satter was fouled on the play and made the free throw to complete the 3-point play that tied the game at 42-all. Nelson’s putback dunk of a Michael Widmer miss gave the Firebirds the lead again but a field goal by Grayson Haman and two free throws by Mason Bitz gave the Eagles the two point advantage with 6:17 left.

Devils Lake regained the lead again after Nelson stole a pass in the paint and made a layup on the other end to give the Firebirds the 48-47 advantage. Cole Hage’s basket on the ensuing possession gave Davies the lead at 49-48.

Ahead by one, Haman connected on a 3 that pushed the Eagles ahead by four with 1:22 remaining. With 8.9 seconds left and again ahead by one, Hage’s 3-pointer from the right corner finished off Devils Lake’s thoughts of an upset.

Nelson scored 18 points and both Widmer and Ben Heilman had eight points apiece for the Firebirds who end their regular season home schedule tomorrow against second-ranked West Fargo Sheyenne which has won 10 straight after beating Fargo North Tuesday night.

“[Sheyenne] is No. 2 in the state so we’ve got a hellva week ahead of us but to me, it’s a good opportunity to try to knock someone off at the end of the year. But it’s the same mentality, we have to battle and make them make tough shots,” Gathman said.

Matter finished the night with 20 points and Hage had 11 for the Eagles.

The Firebirds got out to a 13-3 lead after Heilman completed a 3-point play. Davies came back with a 10-0 run to tie the score at 13.

The Eagles took their first lead of the game with 6:13 left before halftime behind a Haman field goal. Davies built its lead to four but the Firebirds a Braden Fee 3 cut the Devils Lake deficit to one and two free throws by Nelson gave the Firebirds the lead.

The Firebirds went into the locker room on an 11-3 run and led 29-25.

Chris Harris can be reached at

Fargo Davies at Devils Lake box score

Davies 25 32 — 57

Devils Lake 29 24 — 53

FARGO DAVIES (18-1, 17-1 EDC)

Satter 20, Hage 11, Van Dam 9, Haman 8, Hektner 3, Bitz 2, Noel 2, Hensel 2. Totals 20 9-12 57.

DEVILS LAKE (11-8, 11-7)

Nelson 18, Heilman 8, Widmer 8, Fee 8, Hofstad 6, Frelich 5, Hanson 0, DeCoteau 0. Totals 16 16-21 53.