There was reason to let loose some emotions for the Grand Forks Central girls basketball team Tuesday night.
The Knights scored a 65-43 win at Fargo North High School. The victory not only was the first of the season for Central; the win snapped a 49-game losing streak dating back to the close of the 2016-17 high school season.
“A lot of us have been on the team for a few years,’’ junior Haley Gereau said. “We were all screaming after the game. A few of us did cry. They were tears of joy.
“We were so happy that we finally put together two halves of good basketball and played like we know we’re capable of playing. It felt really good to have our hard work finally pay off, to show that we can win.’’
Central’s last win came in the 2017 East Region tournament, a 64-49 quarterfinal win against Grand Forks Red River. The Knights followed with two straight losses, then had back-to-back 0-22 seasons before opening this season with three straight losses.
There were some narrow setbacks along the way. Four of the defeats were by five or fewer points, the closest a 37-36 loss to Fargo South in the 2017-18 season.
“We’re all competitive. You don’t want to lose,’’ Central coach D.J. Burris said. “Obviously, it gets frustrating. But we also know it’s been a process. Our girls have come a long way. So much of basketball is confidence. We could see a change in the atmosphere this year, that the girls know they can get things done.
“I knew (a win) would happen this year, that there are teams we can compete against.’’
Haley Gereau scored 18 to lead the way against North, with Sophia Roehl adding 15 points and Lauren Hillman 11. With Maddie Myrold adding 9 points and Ashley Gereau 8, the Knights got a balanced offense that’s been missing throughout the losing streak.
In only three of the 49 losses did Central score more than 50 points. In 29 of the games, the Knights scored less than 40.
“We’re a better offensive team this year,’’ Burris said. “The girls’ confidence is growing. They know they can hit the outside shots they take.’’
Tuesday’s win can only boost that confidence.
“I think it shows this group that the work they’ve put in would pay off. It finally did,’’ Burris said. “It was rewarding to see the girls have a moment of joy and a chance to celebrate. They were pretty happy.
“It was a time to celebrate We’ll enjoy the win. But we have to get back to working on the things we need to improve on to get better. A win doesn’t define us. These girls work hard every day. That’s what we hang our hats on, working harder than the other team.’’
The Knights have put in the work. Now, after 49 straight losses, they have the reward of a win.
“I think we can build off it,’’ Haley Gereau said. “Everybody is ready to build off that energy and push ahead.’’