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Red River holds off Devils Lake 69-58 in girls basketball

Free throws were about a wash as far as the numbers went. Timing was everything, however. Grand Forks Red River hit eight free throws in the final minute Tuesday to clinch a 69-58 girls high school basketball victory against visiting Devils Lake....

Roughrider guard Alex Page blocks Devils Lake player Abby Johnson's path Tuesday night at Red River High School. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
Roughrider guard Alex Page blocks Devils Lake player Abby Johnson's path Tuesday night at Red River High School. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Free throws were about a wash as far as the numbers went. Timing was everything, however.

Grand Forks Red River hit eight free throws in the final minute Tuesday to clinch a 69-58 girls high school basketball victory against visiting Devils Lake.

Jadyn Sondrol hit four free throws and Maggie Steffen and Kenady Steffan two apiece in the final 57 seconds.

"That hasn't been the norm for us,'' said Red River coach Kent Ripplinger of his team's 18-of-24 shooting from the line. "We've only been an OK free-throw shooting team. But down the stretch we executed and got the ball to the right people. Those are our best free-throw shooters.''

Devils Lake was 14-of-25 from the line. As the Firebirds went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 59-53 with 2:11 remaining, Devils Lake missed opportunities to further whittle down the lead in the run by hitting just three of seven free-throw attempts.

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"That's just not good enough,'' said DL coach Justin Klein. ''And we have been kind of inconsistent shooting free throws.

"I thought we had some momentum going. We were getting steals and baskets off them. I felt we were battling our way back at that point.''

The Firebirds, down 28-21 at halftime, used a 9-2 spurt to pull even at 30. The game was still tied at 34 before Red River went on an 11-0 run led by a pair of Shelby Frank close-range baskets to go ahead 45-34 with 12:10 left. Devils Lake got no closer than six the rest of the way.

"We responded well to their second-half start,'' Ripplinger said. "And most of that was because we were getting defensive stops and we stopped turning the ball over so much.

"We're similar teams in that we both pressure the ball and get turnovers that get us going.''

Both teams also were similar with their balance. Frank and Steffen scored 16 points each to lead Red River. Steffan had 10 points and Sondrol 12, including a buzzer-beating hook shot from beyond the 3-point line as the shot clock was expiring.

Mattea Vetsch's 13 points paced Devils Lake, with Jailyn Martinson scoring 11 and Jess Mertens 10.

Red River improved to 13-4 with the win while Devils Lake dropped to 12-5.

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