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Over the last two years, Valley City High School boys basketball coach Scott Hurlimann has watched his team play numerous games where they were close, but couldn't quite put the finishing touches on an Eastern Dakota Conference win.
But Tuesday at the Hi-Liner Activity Center, the team made the hump look more like a speed bump, beating Devils Lake 74-58 in a two-point EDC game. It was the team's first conference win since the 2010-2011 season.
"We've been close and had some really good games and we've had chances to win, but we've never been able to get over that hump," Hurilimann said. ""This is a good game. We looked good, really, from start to finish, offensively and defensively."
It was an EDC win against a team that's gotten wins against Fargo Davies, Grand Forks Central, and Fargo North this season. Behind it was one of Valley City's most consistent offensive performances of the season.
Jared Lentz, Chase Carpenter, Tayler Lentz and Mason Denholm all finished with over 10 points, with Kyle Knutson, Jarod Nelson and Austin Svenningsen all finding their moments, as well.
In the case of the double-digit scorers, all four found their moments in both halves as the Hi-Liners avoided the occasional scoring drought that has hurt them in several games this season.
"Not really any (laspes)," Hurlimann said. "We took big shots, we passed the ball, so those were good things and, defensively, (Nathan) Mertens is tough, but we kept him in check."
Valley City scored the first points of the game, but eventually fell behind 9-5 just over four minutes in.
The Hi-Liners then used their balanced scoring approach to get points from Denholm, Tayler Lentz, and Carpenter to go up 16-9 with 7:44 left in the half.
Valley City spent the rest of the game defending that lead. Though Devils Lake narrowed the lead to 25-23 with 3 minutes left in the first half, Jared Lentz finished the half with five unanswered points to make it 32-23 at the break.
The Hi-Liners eventually pulled away in the final ten minutes of the game, getting the lead as high as 21 points with 2:41 left to play.
Jared Lentz led Valley City with 20 points , hitting two 3-pointers, four twos, and finishing 6-7 at the free-throw line. Carpenter had 18 points, Tayler Lentz had 13 and Denholm had 12.
Mertens led Devils Lake with 26 points and Chase Johnson had 12.