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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Firebirds feel standout's absence

The Devils Lake girls basketball team found out Thursday that all-state guard Ashley Privratsky will be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The Devils Lake girls basketball team found out Thursday that all-state guard Ashley Privratsky will be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Privratsky's reputation as a difference-maker was obvious in her absence, too.

Fueled by four scorers in double figures, Grand Forks Central raced to an 81-65 victory over Devils Lake in the Central gymnasium.

"We graduated seven seniors last year, so we don't have many players with experience," said Devils Lake coach Scott Privratsky, who is Ashley's father. "I expect us to have some growing pains."

Ashley Privratsky, who has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at UND, has been sidelined since the first game of the season.

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"She plans to have surgery sometime in January and start rehabbing," coach Privratsky said.

The Knights bolted to a 38-21 halftime lead and led by at least seven points throughout the second half.

The Firebirds made it 60-53 with 7 minutes, 50 seconds left on a free throw from freshman Stephanie Mertens. However, the Knights responded with six straight points to bump their lead to 13.

In the key stretch, Courtney Hammer and Lacey Petersen hit long jumpers, while Jozy Hansen scored on the fastbreak with an assist from Petersen.

Hammer, a freshman guard, finished with a team-high 16 points. Courtney Bunde scored 14 points, while Petersen and Vanessa Riski each chipped in with 12 points.

"Give the girls credit for not giving up," Central coach Brent Hintz said. "We went from up 18 to up about eight. For the kids to settle down and regain their composure was big.

"There's obviously room for improvement. But overall, I thought we saw some good things."

Devils Lake, led by Mertens' 19 points, kept things close in the second half. Its first-half hole, though, was too deep to overcome.

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The Knights held the Firebirds to one field goal in the final six minutes of the first half. Central closed the half on a 15-5 run, highlighted by four points each from Hammer and Leah Tunseth.

"We saw some things where when the girls get more experience, they might make those plays," the Devils Lake coach said. "And we gave up way too many second-chance opportunities. We were giving them 2-3 shots."

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