Devils Lake eyeing first state boys basketball title since 1925

Mar. 12—GRAND FORKS — When the Devils Lake girls basketball team won a North Dakota Division A state title earlier this month, the Firebirds snapped a drought of 37 years without a state girls basketball title.

If the Devils Lake boys are going to match the girls' success, the Firebirds are going to snap a much longer drought.

Devils Lake hasn't won a state boys basketball title since 1925, last falling just short in the 1999 state title game.

The Firebirds will take the No. 2 seed into Thursday's state quarterfinals against No. 7 Valley City at 1 p.m. in Fargo. It's the first season in North Dakota under the new three-class format, with Devils Lake playing in the middle division.

"We're really playing well," said Devils Lake coach Dustin Brodina, whose daughter Tylie scored 25 points in the state title game for the girls program en route to tournament MVP honors. "We had some losses during the season where our defense wasn't where we needed it to be. The last eight to 10 games of the season, we're playing really solid defense and not making mistakes that way."

Six-foot-5 senior guard Wylee Delorme leads the way for the Firebirds. Delorme, who has signed to play at the University of Mary next season, averages 17.9 points per game.

Dustin's two oldest sons provide a scoring punch, as well. Junior Parker Brodina averages 14.1 points, while senior Beau Brodina averages 9.9 points. Junior forward Joel Nelson also adds 9.4 points per game.

Drew Hofstad averages 5.8 points per game, while Mason Palmer adds 7.0.

"We've been balanced," said Dustin Brodina, a native of Lankin, N.D. "We have seven guys who can put the ball in the hole. We play seven deep. The big thing with us is we talk team, team, team."

Brodina also believes Delorme's stats this season are misleading, as Devils Lake adjust to the new three-class system. Former Class A games were two 18-minute halves for 36 minutes, while new Division A plays four eight-minute quarters for 32 total minutes. The Firebirds have also played in a number of blowouts, limiting Delorme's points in the second half.

"Wylee is super athletic," Brodina said. "One thing people don't fully understand is how athletic he is. He has a big, long wing span, shoots extremely well and can get downhill."

Brodina said Devils Lake's key is defense and balance.

"It's our ability to keep teams away from the basket," he said. "If we execute our gameplan and move the ball at a high level and share it at a high level, we're a tough team to beat because you can't key on just one guy."

Coach: Dustin Brodina.

Record: 22-2.

Top scorers: Sr. G Wylee Delorme 17.9 points per game; jr. F Parker Brodina 14.1 ppg; sr. G Beau Brodina 9.9 ppg; jr. F Joel Nelson 9.4 ppg.

State tournament history: Devils Lake last won a state championship in 1925. The Firebirds haven't played in a state title game since 1999.