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Change brings same for Spuds

The reality isn't as shiny and neatly wrapped as Don Hulbert had hoped. Though the high school girls basketball and volleyball seasons in North Dakota will mesh with Minnesota's beginning this fall, the Moorhead athletic director has foun...

The reality isn't as shiny and neatly wrapped as Don Hulbert had hoped.

Though the high school girls basketball and volleyball seasons in North Dakota will mesh with Minnesota's beginning this fall, the Moorhead athletic director has found that interstate scheduling is not so congruent.

"From the very get go when talk first began about switching seasons in North Dakota we might have been a little bit naïve of that," Hulbert said. "We had this vision of finally hooking up contests with natural opponents that we play in many other sports.

"The reality is, because of the fewer number of teams in North Dakota, there is a great obligation, they feel, to accommodate North Dakota schools. That's disappointing for us in not being able to get top notch competition without the horrendous traveling."

For now, the Spuds remain widely confined to the East side of the Red River.

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The volleyball team will play at Fargo South on Oct. 8 and host Fargo North and West Fargo during the Moorhead Invitational tournament Oct. 18-19, but no North Dakota teams are on the girls basketball docket.

"People have waited to see how we match up," Hulbert said. "We're going to have that opportunity in a limited fashion in volleyball, and to not have it in (girls) basketball is painful. I wish we did."

It's not only painful, but costly. According to Hulbert, Moorhead "has one of the largest activity travel budgets in the state." The Spuds regularly bus into the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to find quality opponents.

Playing Fargo South, for example, would not only decrease the travel budget, but boost revenue from ticket sales.

Similar situations have worked exceedingly well for the Spuds boys basketball team.

The problem is multi-faceted.

Most schedules follow a traditional pattern and are made at least one year in advance. Secondly, the North Dakota High School Activities Association allows its schools just 19 games. Finding room for new rivals on a docket crammed with mandatory conference contests and a Christmas tournament is not feasible.

"What's happened is we're locked into our schedule," Fargo South girls basketball coach Craig Flaagan explained. "I'd love to play Moorhead and Detroit Lakes and Alexandria or Fergus Falls. It'd be great.

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"But until our high school activities association gives us some more games, it's almost impossible to do."

Still, that won't deter future efforts.

"We're disappointed we're not going to match up in girls basketball this winter," Hulbert said. "That was a major disappointment for our coaches and our fans and our parents. We hope that situation changes."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548

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