MARCH 19, 1977 - Hillsboro edges Epping in memorable boys hoops title game

March 19, 2020 8:15 pm

By Tom Mix
NDHSAA Media Specialist

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – March 19, 1977. It is the date that many North Dakotans remember for a high school boys basketball matchup that still evokes many fond memories with fans.

The memorable matchup that night: Hillsboro vs. Epping for the 1977 NDHSAA Class B boys basketball state championship.

Ask 100 random North Dakotans old enough to remember that game who won that night, a handful might say Epping – a town of around 130 people and a school with 24 kids in high school in 1977 – was the victor. That is a direct product of how much Epping had endeared themselves to basketball fans across the state.

It was indeed a game that fit the “David vs. Goliath” category. Hillsboro defeated Epping 56-52 that night before a sold-out crowd of 7,400 fans at the Bismarck Civic Center – many who hitched their wagons to the Epping Eagles.

Epping was the underdog afterall. The Eagles had endured a 96-game losing streak during the 1960s. In 1977, however, Epping had a tournament run to remember. The Eagles finished the year 27-2. Epping senior center Bob Allard led all scorers with 24 points in the title game.

For every underdog there is a favorite. Hillsboro had won back-to-back state championships in 1973 and 1974 and in 1977 they would hang another banner ending its season with a 26-3 record. Hillsboro senior forward Joe Henn scored 20 points in the title game. Hillsboro senior forward Dave Nelson finished with 10 points in the championship game and scored 56 points for the tournament and earned Tournament MVP honors.


EPPING: M. Vinger 6, C. Vinger 1, B. Allard 24, Bingeman 1, D. Allard 19, Brevik 1. TOTALS: 21 FG, 10-25 FT.

HILLSBORO: Henn 20, Waters 10, Nelson 10, Eisenbels 6, Kelley 8, Burck 2. TOTALS: 21 FG, 14-22 FT.

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