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Published February 08 2012

BSA, Fargodome to share ND Class A basketball tournaments this year

FARGO – Coaches, players and spectators complained. The Metro Area Tournament Committee responded.

After years of fielding negative feedback about the configuration of the combined North Dakota Class A boys and girls basketball tournaments at the Fargodome, the committee has decided to change things this season.

The Bison Sports Arena will also be used in place of the often-ridiculed south court at the Fargodome, providing two quality courts to an event that many complained previously only had one.

“Being at NDSU will provide another high-quality facility,” said West Fargo Activities Director Curt Jones, who with Fargo Public School Activities Director Ed Lockwood helped spearhead the change. “We think we will have two premier courts going on at the same time.”

In 2009 and 2011, the Fargodome used a pair of courts separated by a black curtain for the combined Class A tourney.

The south court was used for the entire first round of the girls tournament. It was also used for boys and girls consolation games on the second day of the three-day tournament.

Jones said coaches, players and spectators often complained about the south court’s poor atmosphere, old playing surface and baskets, and dark lighting.

Lack of seating on all sides of both courts for the opening two days of the tournament was also an issue, Jones said.

Former Fargo South girls basketball coach Craig Flaagan said a change was long overdue.

“The south court … just felt second class,” said Flaagan, who led the Bruins to 17 state tournament appearances in 19 years. “Nobody should feel that way at the state tournament. The north court just felt better. It was a state-tournament atmosphere. That’s the way it should be.”

The south court won’t be an issue this year.

The first day of the girls tournament will be played at the BSA, and the first day of boys competition will be played on the Fargodome’s north court. The court will be set up for championship play, with seating on all sides of the court throughout the tournament.

Combined championship bracket play will be held at the Fargodome, and combined consolation bracket play will be held at the BSA on the second day of the tournament. All games on the final day will be played on the Fargodome’s north court.

“I think what they are trying to do is try different things to see what works and what doesn’t,” Fargo Shanley boys coach Leon Knodle said. “A lot of people haven’t liked the one venue with two tournaments going on at the same time. Maybe this is a better way.”

The Metro Area Tournament Committee has for some time been interested in using the BSA and Fargodome for the combined Class A basketball tournament, Jones said.

However, scheduling conflicts with the North Dakota State men’s and women’s basketball teams always thwarted efforts.

Jones and Lockwood worked out a deal with NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor to use the BSA this year shortly after last year’s combined basketball tournament at the Fargodome.

“I think as a fan, a parent or anyone who is a sports nut, this is going to be a better situation for the boys and the girls,” West Fargo girls coach Barb Metcalf said. “They are trying to do something to improve on what we’ve had in the past. And that is a good thing.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com