Spartans, Firebirds to collide: Packers battle through injuries
Two of the top boys basketball players in North Dakota and two of the top teams in the state will be at the Fargo North gym at 7:45 p.m. Friday. The unbeaten Devils Lake Firebirds, ranked No. 1 in the Class A poll, play at the No. 3 Fargo North S...
Two of the top boys basketball players in North Dakota and two of the top teams in the state will be at the Fargo North gym at 7:45 p.m. Friday.
The unbeaten Devils Lake Firebirds, ranked No. 1 in the Class A poll, play at the No. 3 Fargo North Spartans.
"It's a big game, but no matter what, we want to make sure we get better," said Devils Lake coach Jason Gregory, whose team has a7-0 record. "There are bigger games at the end of the year."
That said, this game could go a long way in determining the EDC champion in the regular season.
Since North and Devils Lake play once in the regular season, the game is worth two points in the conference.
In addition, Devils Lake's Travis Mertens and North's Eric Erdmann are arguably the two best forwards in the state.
The 6-foot-5 Mertens is averaging 19.6 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. He went over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds for his career earlier this season.
Erdmann, also 6-5, is averaging 20.8 points and 8.5 rebounds.
"It's going to kind of be a battle between those two," said North coach Dan Shultis, whose team is 8-2.
"I think we are going to match Eric up with Mertens and say 'Here you go. This is what you play for.' "
Shultis said his biggest concern is containing a potent Devils Lake offense. The Firebirds are averaging 74.6 points per game.
"I think our strategy is going to try to keep our kids level-headed and not get into a running game against them," Shultis said.
Even though West Fargo placed sixth at the prestigious Bismarck Rotary wrestling tournament last weekend, winning two individual titles, the New Year hasn't been all good.
Packers coach Kayle Dangerud said the team found out senior Taylor Bertek - the starter at 135 pounds - is out for the season with a torn ACL. Senior Adam Lynnes - who is undefeated and won a Rotary championship at 171 pounds - is out for two weeks with a concussion suffered in his title match at the Rotary.
In addition, sophomore Cameron Ramberg, the starter at 119, has been in and out of the lineup with a back injury.
"These injuries are things that we can't control," said Dangerud, whose team was ranked No. 1 in Class A at the start of this season. "If you can't control it, you just have to look at the positives and move on."
A top United States Hockey League coach said he is impressed with Fargo South boys hockey players Paul Weisgarber and Erick Galt. A senior forward, Weisgarber has 13 goals and 17 assists for the 12-0 Bruins. A senior defenseman, Galt has seven goals and 11 assists. ... The Hankinson Pirates (8-0) play at the Richland Colts (7-2) on Saturday. Both are unbeaten in Wild Rice Conference boys basketball play and both were tied for 10th in this week's Class B media poll.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513 or firstname.lastname@example.org