I have gone to somewhere over 200 regular-season basketball games in my life. One game, in particular, stands out above them all.
It was the next-to-last game of the 1992 regular season. West Fargo and Valley City were rated No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, and the game between them was scheduled to be played at Valley City.
Because of West Fargo's large following, in addition Valley City being rated No. 2, meant a large attendance was expected. West Fargo asked that the game be moved to the college gym in Valley City. The Highliners turned down that notion, however, because they felt it would take away their home-court advantage.
Knowing the gym wasn't very big, Mark H. Daup, myself and our wives left early in the afternoon to make sure we could get in. We reached Valley City around 4 p.m. and gretting us were signs in store windows and on the gym door with messages about who was really No. 1, and how we better be ready to go home disappointed.
When we looked into the gym, it was about full. We had to split up in order to find places to sit. Mark and I ended up sitting surrounded by Valley City fans. They must have turned away 1,000 fans or more.
To go to the bathroom, we had to go one at a time in order to save our spots.
We sat through the sophomore and junior varsity games, of which West Fargo won both.
The fans knew we were from West Fargo by our green sweaters, and who we were cheering for. After losing the first two games, they made sure we heard them talking that those games weren't important, and that the real game was about to be played.
When Valley City was introduced, the lights were turned off and a spotlight was used.
The game was close through the first three quarters, and their fans were cheering and screaming in our ears with every point they made.
As the fourth quarter got under way, the game was stopped a couple times to mop up wet spots on the floor. Finally, the game was stopped and they brought out the 4-foot-wide dust mops to help dry the floor.
The radio commentator also said the walls were dripping with moisture. It was very warm inside, and they opened a door to help cool it down.
The game started again after about 10 minutes. A short while later, the floor again was too wet to continue. The situation was discussed with the coaches that maybe the game should be postponed until the next day. After another 10-minute delay, it was decided to have everyone leave so it could be cooled off and the floor again mopped up. Everyone left and returned after about a half hour, and the game continued.
The final three minutes were played. West Fargo pulled away to win by 8 points. When the game was in hand and the clock winding down, Mark and I asked each other quite loudly when the real game was to begin?
I feel Valley City put too much importance into this one game, and when they lost, it was all downhill for them. They lost their final game of the year, and I think they went two games and out at the EDC tournament, while West Fargo went on to win the state title.
Birrenkott is a longtime resident of West Fargo, and an avid Packers fan.