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Legend of Archambault


Countless youngsters, farm kids and city kids alike, have dreamed of playing in the North Dakota high school basketball tournament since it began in 1914. The Class B tourney gets the most attention, because small towns gain the limelight. However, the Class A, large-school, boys basketball tournament has also had dramatic championship games.

One of those came on this date in 1973, when Fort Yates captured the Class A boys basketball title, defeating Minot in triple overtime. This championship game created the legend of Wyman Archambault. Archambault was a “5-foot-10 jumping jack” with lightning quickness at the guard position. Fort Yates also featured center Darrell Eaglestaff, a six-foot-four scoring machine. Fort Yates reached the championship game despite having the smallest enrollment in Class A. It had never been the Class A champion.

The Minot Magicians by contrast had won ten state titles, the most in history. Minot had last won in 1971, when then-sophomore Wayne Whitty scored at the buzzer to defeat Jamestown. Against Fort Yates, Whitty, now a senior mainstay, was weakened by a sprained ankle and the flu.

Fort Yates started out nervously and trailed 18 to 13 after one quarter. Their nerves steadied and the score evened at halftime, 32 all. Wyman Archambault scored only two first-half points.

Minot played a solid second half and led by eight with only 43 seconds to go. That’s when Wyman Archambault stepped up his game. He made two free throws with 42 seconds left; then a teammate intercepted a pass and scored with :28 seconds remaining; then Fort Yates stole another pass and scored with :21 seconds left. Minot then turned the ball over again, and Fort Yates had the ball at mid-court.

With just two seconds left on the clock, Archambault ran to the left side near the top of the key, caught the inbounds pass and launched a turn-around shot that arced up high, “apparently off-course,” but it banked in off the backboard at the buzzer to tie the game at 68.

In overtime, the Fort Yates crowd chanted, “Archambault . . . Archambault . . . Archambault, and the senior sparkplug responded, making four points at critical times during the three overtimes. In the end, Fort Yates won by one point, 79 to 78, making the Standing Rock Reservation team the smallest school to become Class A champs.

Dakota Datebook written by Steve Hoffbeck, History Department, MSU Moorhead.

“Fort Yates, Minot to Battle for Crown,” Bismarck Tribune, March 10, 1973, p. 1.

“Fort Yates Wins State Title In 3 Dramatic Overtimes,” Grand Forks Herald, March 11, 1973, p. 37.

“Swisher Lauds Champion Team As ‘Guttiest,’” Bismarck Tribune, March 12, 1973, p. 16.

“Fort Yates Snares Title in Triple OT,” Minot Daily News, March 12, 1973, p. 19.

James B. Sullivan, “The Inside,” Minot Daily News, March 12, 1973, p. 19.

“Fort Yates Coach: Team Has Heart,” Minot Daily News, March 12, 1973, p. 19.

“Giant Killers,”Bismarck Tribune, March 13, 1973, p. 1.

“Fort Yates Captures First Class A Crown,” Bismarck Tribune, March 12, 1973, p. 16.

“Fort Yates Turned ‘Loose’ to Win Title,” Bismarck Tribune, March 12, 1973, p. 1.

“Minot Holds Appearance, Title Marks: Magicians Have Won 10 Times,” Bismarck Tribune, March 8, 1973, p. 4A.

‘Archambault’ chant documented by Jim Tschetter, Minot, ND, in an interview with Steve Hoffbeck, March 14, 1995.