Girls basketball: Firebirds capitalize on free throws to down Red River
From the field, it was a slight advantage for the Grand Forks Red River girls basketball team.
But, Red River coach Kent Ripplinger said, "It's hard to guard the free-throw line.''
Visiting Devils Lake High School had a big advantage in free throws as the Firebirds scored a 78-67 win Friday.
Devils Lake had 42 free-throw attempts. The Firebirds made 34—20 more free throws than Red River made.
"We usually get to the line quite a bit,'' Devils Lake coach Justin Klein said. "But 42 attempts—that's probably double what we normally get.
"We did a good job of attacking the basket. That's a lot of points on free throws. We struggled shooting from the outside.''
Red River had a 25-22 advantage in field goals. The Riders made three treys while shutting out Devils Lake from behind the 3-point line.
Red River also had a height advantage. Devils Lake was able to negate that, however. "They got so many free throws because they rebounded so well,'' Ripplinger said. "They were more aggressive inside. That's the way they play, so aggressively.''
Red River held a 52-45 lead with 10:37 left when Claire Leach scored on an offensive rebound putback.
Devils Lake answered with 15 unanswered points. Jess Mertens started the run with a basket and capped it with a layup and two free throws for a 60-52 lead with 7:06 remaining.
Red River was still within 64-59 until Devils Lake rattled off four points in two seconds. Chiara Olson hit two free throws, then Ramsey Brown intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass and scored for a 68-59 lead with 4:36 left. Red River got no closer than seven the rest of the way.
"That was a huge turning point,'' Klein said. "I think that flustered them. Those points off turnovers are huge. Defense was the key. We got after them with our full-court man-to-man.''
Red River totaled 35 turnovers, possessions Devils Lake converted into 23 points.
"We played well at times,'' Ripplinger said. "But then we'd go on a turnover fest. We need to take better care of the ball and have longer good spurts.''
Brown's 16 points led the Firebirds. Mattea Vetsch had a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, with Mertens adding 13 points and Taylor Windjue 11.
Kenady Steffan scored 16 points and Jadyn Sondrol 11 to lead Red River.