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Top-ranked Davies boys rely on defense in win against Deacons

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FARGO—No matter how much he yells, Bart Manson insists he's happy when he's coaching the Fargo Davies boys basketball team. He just gets fired up sometimes and wants his players to play with that same fire.

Manson certainly was happy with his team's defensive performance despite the Eagles scoring their least amount of points since the first game this season. The top-ranked Eagles held Fargo Shanley to without a field goal for more than 10 minutes after halftime and cruised to a 75-65 Eastern Dakota Conference victory on Friday, Feb. 9, at Shanley High School.

Davies (16-1, 15-1 EDC) is on a seven-game winning streak and won all but one of those games by double digits. The Eagles have a slim lead in the EDC standings over No. 3-ranked West Fargo Sheyenne and No. 5-ranked West Fargo, but Davies still has to play those two teams again to close out the regular season.

"I thought our defense was really good, and I thought that was what won us the game in the second half," Manson said. "We didn't give them many second chances."

The Eagles forced the Deacons to shoot 20-for-70 (28 percent), while shooting 25 of 59 (42 percent) from the floor. The Eagles also grabbed 47 rebounds to Shanley's 27.

Braeton Motschenbacher said this was one of the Eagles' best defensive performances of the season. He led the Eagles offensively with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting and added four rebounds, four assists and four steals.

"I think we do a good job of coming out for the second half, but that's just coming out with fire and playing hard," Motschenbacher said. "We played good defense and they just weren't making their shots."

Mitch Larson, who added 15 points, guarded Shanley's Cam Saville and held Saville to five points after he was averaging 17.6 points per game through 16 games.

Jaden Klabo totaled 13 points for the Eagles, and Cole Hage added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Shane Anderson had a double-double himself with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Anderson was in charge of guarding Jake Kava, who led the Deacons (11-7, 11-6) with a game-high 22 points, while shooting 4 of 18 from the field. Kava said the Eagles move the ball well and show discipline as a result of their coaching which makes them tough to play.

"We had to take the punches we knew they were going to throw," Kava said. "We took the punch and traded buckets with them for a while and that's tough to come back from."

Kava said the Eagles excel at second-half adjustments. And the Eagles must have made just the right adjustments after the break.

After taking a five-point lead in the first half, the Eagles went on the 10-minute stretch to start the second half when they kept the Deacons from making a field goal.

"Defense always leads to our offense. That's how we get going," Larson said. "If we're not playing well on the defensive end, then we're not making shots at all. It all started with the defense."

Halftime: FD 33, FS 28

FD: Motschenbacher 20, Larson 15, Klabo 13, Hage 11, Anderson 10, Stenseth 6.

FS: Ja. Kava 22, Erie 16, Jo. Kava 6, Thimjon 6, Saville 5, Hoffer 5, Mehlisch 3, McKeever 2.