Molly LaForge

Erie senior Molly LaForge puts up a 3-point attempt late in the first half during the Lady Red Devils 61-53 win over the Northeast Alma Lady Vikings on Monday night in Erie. LaForge finished with 16 points in the victory.

ERIC SPRUILL

ERIE — Erie High School’s Maddie Kramer got the Lady Red Devils off to a quick start on Monday night, scoring seven of her team-high 19 points in the opening minutes. And it would take all of them to hold off a scrappy Northeast Arma team in a 61-53 win in the first round of the girls 2A sub-state tournament.

Molly LaForge would knock down a 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds left in the first quarter and hit another shot with five seconds remaining to give the Lady Red Devils a 12-6 lead.

But the Lady Vikings’ Haley Claffey proved to be a one-woman wrecking crew on the evening — she knocked down seven 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 28 points — and never let the Lady Red Devils have much breathing room.

Claffey hit her fourth trey of the first half with 1:28 remaining to pull within two, before Kramer hit a last-second shot to give Erie a 24-20 lead at the half.

The Lady Red Devils (14-7) used a big third-quarter effort from Skylar Clevenger, who scored six points during the stretch, while LaForge hit a triple and another basket to give Erie a 43-33 advantage going into the fourth.

Back-to-back baskets from Abigail VanLeeuwen pushed the Lady Red Devils lead to 14 points with less than five minutes remaining, but the lead would not last for long.

The Lady Vikings still had one last effort to get back into the contest. 

Claffey drained consecutive 3s with the last one coming at the 3:30 mark to pull the Lady Vikings within five points. A 3-pointer from Rachel Fox made it 57-52 with 51.3 left. 

But that was as close as they would get as free throws from Clevenger, VanLeeuwen and LaForge put the game out of reach.

LaForge finished the contest with 17 points, followed by Clevenger and VanLeeuwen, who had eight points apiece. Sarah Stark finished with seven points.

“Every game you win from here is big,” Erie head coach Sindy Daniels said. “ The Lady Devils fought hard from start to finish tonight. Northeast shot the ball well from the outside making 12 three’s (four different girls). At one time in the second half, I looked up and we were up by 15, I blinked and then we were only up by four with about 3:30 left. It was a very aggressive game. I thought the girls did a great job of keeping their heads.”

The Lady Red Devils will return to action on Thursday night when they play the Pleasanton Blue-Jays (14-7) at Yates Center. Pleasanton knocked off Yates Center 34-30 on Monday night. The Thursday night contest is slated for 7:30 pm.

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