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Chris Murphy, Published January 08 2013

New wood floor suits Park Christian just fine in victory

MOORHEAD – After seeing a new wood floor replace their blue tartan, it was love at first sight for the Moorhead Park Christian’s boys basketball players.

“We walked in the gym and kissed the Falcon in the center of the floor,” Park Christian big man Hunter Nickel said, after filling up the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in a 60-38 win over Waubun on Tuesday. “The old gym was about a half-inch of tartan on top of concrete, so it was like you were playing in your driveway with a carpet on it.”

There was some special coaching involved in the transformation from basketball on the tartan to a wood floor for Park Christian’s Gary Walton.

“On the tartan your feet slide when you try to press your foot to the ground to get footing and your body doesn’t move if you try to slide against it, whereas wood is the complete opposite,” Walton said. “These kids have been playing on wood all their lives, so there wasn’t much of a change. The kids thought it was awesome when we first saw it. It’s pretty exciting to be here.”

Park Christian guard Matt Moberg had his fair share of burns from the old Falcons gym, and he knew the tartan would never accept his apology if it knew he had kissed the new wood floor. It was payback for the pain and anguish it put him through. Moberg and the wood floor have a gentler relationship.

“The tartan wasn’t very forgiving,” Moberg said after scoring a game-high 24 points versus Waubun. “I’m a speed guy, so if you’d cut, you’d slide until someone stopped you. You’d get pretty nice burns from it. If you stood with your legs spread, they’d slide apart. When we first walked in to see the new floor, the doors were locked, but we looked in and it just looked so much brighter. Things were just more joyful.”

In Tuesday’s matchup, Park Christian opened with a 6-0 run and never trailed. Waubun cut it to 30-23 early in the second half, but the Falcons answered with a 15-0 run to run away with it.

“We’ve come a long way as a team,” Nickel said. “We have a long way to go, but we’re getting there. We were ready to get these guys. We knew they were going to be tough on us, but we came out and competed and got the win.”

The wood floor has been kind to Park Christian, as the Falcons moved to 8-2 overall and 3-0 on the new floor with wins of 82-45, 73-55 and Tuesday’s 60-38 final.

“The floor kind of brings people and gets people excited for our games,” Moberg said. “We love playing with the home crowd.”

The idea that this team can look back years from now and say their shoes put the first squeaks on the wood floor isn’t too bad either. And without slipping.

“It’s awesome,” Walton said. “I remember the first shootaround in the summer and how excited the kids were. It’s just great.”

W (1-8): Haugo 2 0-0 5, Hanks 4 0-2 8, Teiken 3 0-0 8, Weber 1 0-0 2, Thompson 1 0-0 2, Price 3 3-4 9, Woods-Steichen 1 0-0 2, Spaeth 1 0-0 2.

P (8-2): M. Moberg 11 2-2 24, Kvalvog 2 2-2 6, Hannestad 3 0-1 7, Tompkins 2 2-4 6, Nickel 5 2-2 12, Smith 1 1-2 3, Heinen 1 0-0 2.

Half: P 26, W 15. 3-point goals: Hannestad 1, Teiken 2. Total fouls: P 7, W 14. Rebounds: P 31 (Nickel 8, Hannestad 6), W 20 (Thompson 7, Haugo 5). Turnovers: P 19, W 23.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548