A look back on Class B: History of small-school basketball featured at N.D. Heritage Center and State Museum

The museum will have the exhibits on display Thursday through Sunday in conjunction with this week's Class B boys basketball tournament.

Kindred girls basketball players celebrate their North Dakota Class B state championship in March 2022 at the Betty Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.
Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — Following the conclusion of this week’s North Dakota Class B boys state basketball tournament at the Bismarck Event Center, the landscape of North Dakota high school basketball will change with the shift to three classes.

However, before that happens, the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck is offering fans an opportunity to look back at the history of Class B under a two-class system with “Class B Basketball At The State Museum.”
Central Cass spills onto the floor after defeating Thompson for the North Dakota Girls Class B Basketball championship game Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Minot.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum

The exhibit — which will run in conjunction with the Class B tournament — features photos, videos and newspaper clippings from past Class B tournaments.

The museum will also have the Prairie Public Television documentaries, “One Shining Moment” and “Basketball, Water, and the Lost City of Elbowoods” running each day.

Laura Forde — Education and Engagement Manager for the State Historical Society of North Dakota — said the idea for the exhibit came when she heard the tournament was going to be in Bismarck.


“I grew up Class B and grew up going to the tournaments and watching them and all of that,” Forde said. “So I knew it was a big thing. So many people come to town to watch that so we thought it would be fun for those people to come to the museum and see some of the history behind Class B as well.”

In addition to the exhibit, the museum will have interactive activities for visitors, particularly Friday and Saturday, Forde said.

“We’ll have a design your own jersey activity where kids can color and design their own jersey," Forde said. "We’re going to try to do some Class B trivia with some historic trivia and some trivia leading up to this current tournament, too.”

The exhibit isn’t the only Class B-related project the museum is currently working on. The state archive is collecting short oral stories for a project titled, “Flicker Tales of North Dakota — Class B.”

state b kindred celebration 032021.jpg
The Kindred Vikings' bench clears in celebration after defeating the Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier Rebels 40-34 for the North Dakota Class B state boys' basketball championship Saturday, March 20, 2021, at the MSU Dome in Minot.
John M. Steiner / Forum News Service

Sarah Walker — Head of Reference Services for the North Dakota State Archives — said that the project is looking to gather stories from players, coaches, fans, announcers, reporters and others with a connection to Class B.

“We are collecting stories of what people have experienced over the years and we will have that here in the archives for the future and it could potentially be used in Class B exhibits in the future,” Walker said. “We have talked to a lot of players, coaches and some announcers. They have covered all sorts of topics from going to state, training, what their uniforms were like and what they liked about Class B and their favorite memories, players, or teams. It’s been really interesting.”

“Flicker Tales of North Dakota — Class B” interviews, all of which are conducted virtually, will be collected until the end of March. Those interested in contributing can contact Walker directly or email the archives at

“We can talk to anybody across the country who is connected to Class B in North Dakota,” Walker said. “We’ve been doing some interviews through video chat and some are by phone. It’s really whatever the comfort level of the person being interviewed is.”


The North Dakota Heritage Center State Museum is seen July 14, 2016, on the Capitol grounds in Bismarck.
Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

“Class B Basketball at the State Museum” will be on display Thursday, March 16, through Sunday, March 19. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend. Admission is free.

“This is a great way to spend a few hours while you're here for Class B. I know for a lot of people, it is a family affair," Forde said. "You can spend a couple of hours at the museum with everyone together and just have a good time."

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