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Bigger not necessarily better in high school sports

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During the basketball tournament season, memories of the 1980s and '90s come to mind.

The 80s are when West Fargo became serious contenders in the Eastern Dakota Conference. When West Fargo would beat Fargo North or Fargo South, the media would report it as an upset.

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Basketball games involving the Fargo teams, including Shanley, became big rivalries. The fans caught on to this, and the gyms always were full. By 1984, if you intended to go to a game, you had better get there early. Even the junior varsity games were played before a full house.

The varsity games had the aisles full, and fans sometimes had to stand in any available space. In fact, fans often were turned away.

Sports pages and television reports said they were hanging from the rafters at West Fargo. There were estimates of 2,500-3,000 fans. No one seemed to know how many fit in the old high school gym. Gyms at the other Fargo schools also filled to capacity on game night.

At tournament time, West Fargo was called a "Sea of Green" by the media.

I have a statistic sheet from a March 1, 1984, East Region tournament game played at the North Dakota State University fieldhouse. It shows the attendance at 7,000 and, yes, it was another West Fargo upset of Fargo South.

When the Packers returned from Minot after winning the state tournament in 1983, cars were lined up from the Mapleton exit to West Fargo, honking horns and waving anything green to show their excitement.

That type of excitement continued through most of the '90s. I don't know what happened after that.

The 25th anniversary of the '83 state champion Packers was in 2008. As they always do, members of that team were introduced at halftime of the state tournament game, which, coincidentally was during a West Fargo game.

Well, there were two coaches, two cheerleaders and two players there, although eight team members make a line in North Dakota or Minnesota. There were very few fans from that era there. Other 25-year anniversary teams have a lineup that takes 15-20 minutes to introduce.

So what happened in West Fargo the last 10 years, or so? The next 25 year anniversary for a state championship team will be in 2016. I'm hoping a few more fans, coaches, cheerleaders and players get behind this.

It was an exciting time that I sure won't forget.

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