By Ryan Cunningham NewsDakota.com
Valley City--Officials of the Eastern Dakota Conference have decided to move away from the central location concept, and instead have opted for home sites in the opening round, two separate locations for the second round, and one final location with a six-game schedule for the final round.
According to West Fargo Athletic Director Curt Jones, the move was made with attendance in mind.
"We just haven't been seeing a lot of people at those first games. We did this many years ago, and we feel we want to reward the top seeds and boost attendance as well," Jones said Wednesday.
Under the new format, the play-in round will not be affected. On Saturday, February 26th, the tenth-seed will travel to the seventh-seed, and the ninth-seed travels to the eighth-seed for both boys and girls play. The losers are out of the tournament.
It's the next two rounds where things get interesting.
The four top finishers from the regular season will all host games at their home arenas. The winner of the eight-nine game will play at the top seed, and the winner of the seven-ten game will play at the second seed. Three will host six and four will host five.
All of these games, boys and girls, will take place Tuesday, March 1st. Many will start at the same time, with some home teams possibly hosting different opponents from girls to boys games.
For example, if the season ended today, Fargo South would be the top seed for EDC boys play, while their girls would finish third. South would host Fargo North in girls play to start the night, with the boys hosting the winner of a Valley City-Grand Forks Central play-in after.
After the first round is finished, the tournament will move to two different Fargo locations for the second round on Friday, March 4th. The boys will play at the Bison Sports Arena, while the girls will play at the Fargo Civic Memorial Auditorium.
Both locations will have the same schedule. The four losers from the first round will be matched in loser-out games, and the winners will play semi-final contests. Four total games will be played at each location.
The final day of the tournament is Saturday, March 5th, with six games at the Bison Sports Arena. The first four games will feature two boys and two girls state qualifying games. The final two games will be boys and girls title games.
Jones added that, if successful, the format may be employed for other sports, such as volleyball, baseball, and hockey.