When small town fans head to the big game

By RYAN M. TAYLOR

For the Capital Press

Columnist Ryan Taylor writes about a different kind of "March Madness."

TOWNER, N.D. — I should’ve written this column last night, but I was busy watching some Class B girls basketball on television. I don’t watch a lot of sports on television, honestly, so when I do it’s a special occasion.

Dad was more of a work outside guy than a watch sports on the television inside type, so I guess I picked up his habits. The only sports I remember him coming inside to watch were boxing and horse racing. He became a boxing fan in the Army when they had a boxing ring on the ship that took him to the South Pacific in World War II, and all cowboys like to watch horses run around the track. Of course, we’d come in to watch a rodeo if one happened to get televised, but that was about it.


Tournament time


However, everyone in North Dakota from towns, including me, watches, listens or goes to the Class B basketball tournaments. I’m not sure where the line is drawn that would separate a “town” from a “city” but our high school activities association draws the line between Class A and Class B schools at 325 high school students.

A lot of Class B schools in North Dakota won’t hit 325 for the whole school, kindergarten through grade 12, so you’ll see some variety in Class B schools from the smallest of rural school districts to the growing towns and bedroom communities of big cities that bump right up against the cutoff.

This column runs in a lot of places outside North Dakota, and I suppose every state has its own classifications of schools and sports. No one in North Dakota, at least not in our Class B communities, considers “B” to mean second rate, a step below or a lower grade. Nope, we figure we’re equal, we just have smaller schools.


Better turnout


If anything, the “B” in Class B might stand for “better turnout” at the games and tournaments. When a Class B school plays a game out of town, they pretty much roll up the streets and turn out the lights behind them. A few of us stay back to feed the cows and keep the water lines trickling if it’s an exceptionally cold night, but we will tune it in on the radio. AM signal, of course.

Our hometown girls basketball team had a really good year, finishing second in their region. They lost the region to the No. 1 ranked team in the state. It was a private school. Don’t get us started on that topic.


Go, Wolves


My wife’s hometown team, the Watford City Wolves, won its region and did make it to state. As a writer, I always appreciate a team that can alliterate their mascot name with the school name. It’s catchy.

The best part was, we have three nieces playing for the Wolves. It was a big deal for the family.

It was fun to watch their opening game on TV, and more fun yet for my wife to go see it in person. I stayed back with the kids and cows. I especially enjoyed the pre-game color commentary where they laid out the strategy that each team would have to take. The Casselton team, they said, would have to “contain the Mogens.” I smiled with pride because that was our nieces they were referring to as the threat to the Casselton Squirrels.

As it turned out, the Squirrels beat the Wolves. That would never happen out in the wild kingdom, but on the hardwood floor, the Squirrels proved to be tougher than the Wolves. I was still proud of the team, and my nieces, and of the tradition of Class B basketball on the prairie.

Me, I give all the “B” players an “A” grade. Well done, women.



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