If there was any skepticism about putting the North Dakota state Class B girls basketball tournament in a smaller, more intimate venue like the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, it certainly didn't surface during the three-day event.
The North Dakota High School Activities Association's decision to place the tournament in a 3,100-seat venue like The Betty contrasted from past board decisions to hold state events in bigger arenas.
But the atmosphere for the past three days at The Betty was hard to beat. Friday night's semifinal round, which featured a marquee matchup between Thompson and Kindred, had the arena basically filled. And it was a loud, intense environment as the two teams went down to the wire for the right to play for a state title.
And Saturday night's crowd for the title game between Kindred and Rugby was an even better atmosphere. A Betty Engelstad Sioux Center attendance record was set as Kindred edged Rugby 49-47 before 3,387 fans. The atmosphere for the final had it all-a record crowd and a title game that wasn't decided until the final buzzer.
The weekend at The Betty couldn't have gone any better for the the facility, fans and the NDHSAA.
"It's a great basketball atmosphere," Hettinger-Scranton coach Kelly Pierce said. "It's a basketball court and not a football field. It's an awesome venue. I'm losing my voice and it's hard to communicate, but that's what a state tournament atmosphere should be."
Other tournament coaches and NDHSAA officials were pleased with the venue and atmosphere.
"I love it," said Rugby coach Jen Brossart, a former University of Mary player. "I've played college basketball and been part of a national championship and this was one of the best atmospheres right there."
NDHSAA executive secretary Matt Fetsch said the weekend at The Betty went well.
"Facility-wise, it couldn't have gone a whole lot better," said Fetsch. "It was as good as we could expect. It's 100 percent positive from those involved. It was a good experience for the girls, too.
"And, as a fan, I don't think you can find a much better place to watch basketball."
The Class B girls tournament won't be at The Betty next year but it is expected to return to Grand Forks in two years. The event is scheduled for Minot in 2020.