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MARILYN HAGERTY: Ball fans flock to March showdowns

Some sit quietly. Others shout and jump up and down. They eat boxes of popcorn and devour hotdogs with mustard that comes in slippery little packages.

For every basketball player in the merry month of March, there are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They show up during tournament time to holler their heads off for their favorite player on their favorite team.

A couple of the most devoted fans around are Del and Ernest “Hod” Hutson of Grafton. She’s 83 and he’s 91. They are grandparents of Emily Evers, a center on the UND women’s team. And they have come down with family members from Grafton for every one of the UND women’s basketball games.

There’s no keeping them away!

“It’s only 40 miles,” says Hutson from his perch high above the basketball court in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Arena.

And bursting with pride, Hod Hutson will tell you, “Emily is just a wonderful gal. She gives it everything she’s got.”

Grandpa Hod knows basketball. He played in high school in Hayward, Wis. And he played as a freshman in college before he was called into pilot training during World War II.

After the war, he ran the Grafton Aero Service that was reorganized in 1970 as North Dakota Aviation. He and his wife had seven children, and they all attended UND. His daughter, Marjory Evers of Grand Forks, is in the Hall of Fame as a UND track star. Her son¸ Jimmy Evers, is on the UND track team. Her husband, Mike Evers, smiles and says, “Well, I play golf!”

The family gathered round when Emily played basketball at Red River High School, and they have surrounded her at UND games. She will be senior status next year.

And Grandpa Hod will gather with friends for coffee in between games at Granny’s Café in Grafton.

“That,” he says, “is where we solve all the world problems.”

Hoops and hockey

The weekend arrives with excitement of the state Class B high school hoops tournament in Grand Forks … and the UND men’s hockey team heading into a big series with Western Michigan at the Ralph tonight and Saturday. UND Boosters are meeting at noon today at the Ralph. … The Greater Grand Forks Symphony Concert is performing Saturday evening at the downtown Empire Arts Center … and there’s free skating Sunday afternoon at the Ralph for those who go in the Olympic Arena entrance.

Meanwhile, the North Dakota High School boys swimming and diving contests are here at UND this weekend. … And the Territory Gun Collectors are gathering in Grand Forks at the Alerus … while the Class B regional girls basketball begins here on Monday.

All this and Daylight Savings Time makes its debut Sunday. … The time is at hand to spring ahead … and people are already handing out programs for Gardening Saturday on the first weekend of April.

Brian and Madelyne

Cheerful people of the week: Brian Jones and Madelyne Camrud.