FARGO — Coronavirus?

What coronavirus?

That seemed to be the sentiment Thursday, March 12, at the North Dakota Class A State Basketball Tournament in Fargo, where crowds turned out in spite of a coronavirus scare that has been shutting down venues across the country.

So, why was the basketball tournament still a go?

Matt Fetsch, executive director of the North Dakota High School Activities Association, said tournament officials are making decisions in close consultation with officials at the North Dakota Department of Health. As of Thursday evening, the plan was to keep the tournament going and allow crowds to watch.

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 Officials Dan Weigel, Todd Rheault and John Ruff fist bump before Bismarck Century and Devils Lake start their game on Thursday, March 12, during the North Dakota Class A state girls basketball tournament at the Fargodome.
David Samson / The Forum
Officials Dan Weigel, Todd Rheault and John Ruff fist bump before Bismarck Century and Devils Lake start their game on Thursday, March 12, during the North Dakota Class A state girls basketball tournament at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum

However, the tournament schedule was modified somewhat in an attempt to thin crowd numbers at games, including semifinal games played at the Scheels Center Friday and third-place and championship games scheduled for Saturday.

Semifinal games will be played at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday.

Third-place games will be played at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, and championship games will be played at 5 p.m. and 8 pm.

Extra time was added between games so the arena can be cleared and cleaned at the end of each game.

Tim Youngquist cleans fan seating at the day’s end of the N.D. Class A state boys basketball tournament quarterfinal round Thursday, March 12, at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, Fargo. The tournament has adjusted the remaining game schedule to allow time to empty and clean the arena between each game. 
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Tim Youngquist cleans fan seating at the day’s end of the N.D. Class A state boys basketball tournament quarterfinal round Thursday, March 12, at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, Fargo. The tournament has adjusted the remaining game schedule to allow time to empty and clean the arena between each game. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Janice Martin, of Bismarck, was at the tournament Thursday to cheer on her nephew, Remington Schatz, who plays for the Dickinson Midgets.

Martin showed no signs of worry over the coronavirus.

"None," Martin confirmed.

"It's like the flu," she added. "They're overrating it."

Another Dickinson booster who was there to cheer on a player but declined to give his name said there were scarier diseases than the coronavirus to worry about.

"I'm more of a realist," he said.

Turnout for the tournament Thursday appeared to be somewhat lighter than in years past, according to Fetsch, who said officials want fans to do what they feel is safest for them and their families.

With information about the coronavirus in constant flux, Fetsch said it was possible tournament organizers could make further changes to this year's event.

"We're going hour by hour," he said.

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