Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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Fargo Spring football starts at North Dakota State this week and if you're a close follower of Bison athletics, it will probably be met with some renewed enthusiasm. The winter sports season came to a close over the weekend at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and the results for the three main programs were less than stellar. The combined record of men's and women's basketball and wrestling was 31-47.
FARGO—Offense. Defense. Special teams. The Fargo Force didn't need any St. Patrick's Day luck of the Irish on Saturday night at Scheels Arena. It was all working in a 5-1 USHL win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints that completed a weekend sweep for the Force, who appear primed to make a season-ending push for a Western Conference title. They scored power play, shorthanded and even strength goals to improve to 29-15-7, good for 65 points. League leader Waterloo has 68 points.
Wyndmere, N.D. The activity at the Black Pelican bar and grille on the outskirts of Wyndmere picked up around 9:30 last Friday night. Until closing time around 2 a.m., they were still making pizzas and talking about the Region 1 boys basketball championship Wyndmere-Lidgerwood had won that night. In one respect, the folks in the communities of Wyndmere and Lidgerwood hadn't felt like that in 47 years.
WAHPETON, N.D.—It's about 14 miles between Wyndmere, N.D., and Lidgerwood, N.D., but nobody cares about that anymore. That rivalry is gone. These days, the two communities are more concerned about how far it is to Bismarck. That's where Wyndmere-Lidgerwood, a basketball co-op that started eight years ago, is headed. The 74-67 win over defending champion Fargo Oak Grove on Friday night at the Blikre Activities Center sends the Warbirds to the North Dakota Class B boys state tournament next weekend.
WAHPETON, N.D.—The game was in doubt until the final minute, but Wyndmere-Lidgerwood made the crucial plays to take a 54-49 win over Maple Valley Thursday night in the North Dakota Class B Region 1 boys basketball semifinals. Time to celebrate? Not really. The Warbirds emerged from their locker room afterward like they just got done with a tough practice. "Game faces are still on," said head coach Todd Hosford.
WAHPETON, N.D.—Fargo Oak Grove head basketball coach Kyle Card had a message for his seniors at halftime on Thursday night: Don't let it be your last game. Guard TJ Anderson got the drift. "Step up and play some harder defense," Anderson said. The Grovers did that and more in the third quarter and went on to defeat Kindred 59-52 in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B Region 1 boys tournament. The Grovers will play in the title game Friday night at Ed Werre Arena on the North Dakota State College of Science campus for the ninth consecutive year.
MOORHEAD—It happens at basketball tournament time. Those smooth-flowing plays during the regular season sometimes have a different feel in the spacious confines of Memorial Auditorium on the Concordia College campus. East Grand Forks and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton slugged it out Tuesday night in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 girls semifinals, a game in which there was more intensity than offense. The last minute turned into a burst of Green Wave momentum and they took a 50-46 victory.
FARGO—North Dakota State is going shopping this spring for a couple more men's basketball players. The season ended in the Summit League tournament semifinals this week, a year in which NDSU had its first losing record since 2010-11. The ship is still sailing, but it sprung a couple leaks this season. And Bison head coach Dave Richman said he's looking for more help on the floor. The Bison have two scholarships available and Richman hinted he's is in the market for a couple of inside players. "Some versatility at the 4, 5," Richman said.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—There were about five or six minutes on Monday night when North Dakota State looked the part of a Summit League Tournament giant killer. As for the other 35 or so? Not so much. South Dakota State struck early, then put the hammer down in the last 10 minutes to take a 78-57 men's basketball victory at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. The semifinal victory puts the Jackrabbits in Tuesday night's title game in which the winner earns the league's automatic ticket to the NCAA tournament.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—It was all looking so pretty. Too pretty as it turned out. North Dakota State was leading Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne by 23 points with 15 minutes left in the game and the Bison were in the driver's seat—with Fort Wayne nowhere near the vehicle. Then it suddenly turned into a race to the finish line.