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Spuds’ Day of Firsts


It was a day of firsts in Fargo's sister city of Moorhead, Minnesota. As reported on this date in 1928, Moorhead High had won its first major sports title by taking the 16th Annual Minnesota high school basketball championship. They beat a Minneapolis team, the Edison Inventors, before a record-breaking crowd of 7,200 spectators in the U of M Fieldhouse.

A reporter wrote, "In the championship game, Edison's vaunted passing play, which baffled Northfield Friday, was no puzzle to the Moorhead Spudders after they got going in the second quarter.

"Moorhead, which has made frequent appearances in the state tournament as representatives of their section, used a cautious slow approach in invading the Edison's territory, but once past the middle of the floor, they uncorked clever passes and some accurate shooting that brought them into favor with a majority of the rooters that were from outside the home city of the Inventors."

Moorhead fans showed up in droves to welcome home their young heroes. Newspapers reported, "From the moment Clifford Halmrast, doughty captain and all-state forward, alighted from the train bearing the championship trophy, until a monster mass meeting was called to order in the high school auditorium, the cheers of the rooters, the blare of the bands, and the shrill cries of the [factory] whistles and [fire] sirens predominated. The victorious players and their coach, Glenn Hanna, were loaded on a fire truck with prominent city officials and were paraded through the main streets of the city."

Halmrast scored 20 points - the most in any championship round between 1922 and 1944. Both he and guard Earl Moran were selected by newspapermen and officials for the Minnesota all-state team. Moran didn't know it at the time, but he was way to becoming the first player to make all-state three times.

The Spuds won the state final again the following year - the first team in Minnesota history to win back-to-back championships. They hoped to make it three in a row the following year, but one of their players, all-state forward Pat Hilde, had just turned 20, making him ineligible.

Moran and teammate Carroll "Shorty" Malvey were the only Minnesota players to get to three state finals prior to 1971. After graduating, Pat Hilde, Earl Moran and Shorty Malvey enrolled at Concordia, in Moorhead, where they continued to make basketball history by leading that college to its first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Title. All three teammates made all-state again - this time at college level.

By the way, the final score in that first state championship game played by Moorhead in 1928...pretty low by today's standard...the Spuds 29 - the Edison Inventors 16!

By Merry Helm


Bismarck Tribune. 26 Mar 1928:6.

Hugunin, Marc and Stew Thornley. Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State. Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006:44.