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Alumni basketball game brings former Hi-Liners back to Valley City

June 17, 2012

Scott Schlaufman/Times-Record Valley City alumnus Natalie Birchem Potratz takes a shot during the halftime 3-point shooting contest at the VCHS Alumni basketball game Saturday at the City Auditorium. Hi-Liners from across the country returned to Valley City to participate in the game, which also included an alumni pep band and cheerleaders.

Former Valley City High School basketball standout Kami Anderson has accomplished plenty since graduating in 1984.
She eventually took her skills to the prestigious Stanford University, where she remains the 18th highest scorer in school history, and today still holds Class A state tournament records for most points in a game (47), most free throws in a game (17) and most field goals in a game (17).
At the urging of friends, Anderson, who now lives in North Carolina, again donned a Hi-Liner uniform Saturday in the second annual VCHS Alumni basketball game and pep rally at the City Auditorium.
“It brought back a lot of memories,” she said. “A lot of good memories.”
Anderson was among the 42 alumni in the game, many of whom traveled from out of state to participate.
The players’ careers spanned over three decades with players from the class of 1982 all the way until the Class of 2000 all taking passes, setting picks and hitting layups in front of a packed crowd that included an alumni pep band and former VCHS cheerleaders.
Proceeds from the event went to the Hi-Liner Athletics Booster Club.
The game was largely played as an 80s vs. 90s game. The four quarters were split between genders — women taking the first and third, men taking the second and fourth.
Though the 80s team held a lead through most of the game, the 90s players hit key jump shots late to win 36-32.
Travis Bjerke, the Hi-Liners’ career leader in offensive rebounds and blocked shots, led both teams with eight points in the game. He used his size to get inside the paint and hit layups.
“It was really fun to come back here just because it was almost like we were in high school again,” said Bjerke, who travelled back to Valley City from his home in Alexandria, Minn., specifically to play in the game. “It was fun to see all the old faces that we used to play with, some of the guys that played before and after us. It’s just been great to see everybody.”
Even though the score was low, the play was intense as the former Hi-Liners dove for balls, got wrapped up trying for steals and took hard fouls coming into the paint.
“It’s still tough play,” said Carla Bowen, who now lives in Minnesota but was playing for the second straight year. “Everybody’s having fun but there’s still a lot of seriousness to it too. We all don’t want to look like fools, so we all want to play well.”
It was a competitive spirit that kept smiles on the faces of all the players, who were cheered on by friends, family and former teachers.
During halftime, members of both teams took part in a 3-point shootout as the band played and cheerleaders cheered.
Afterwards players posed for pictures, shared hugs and anticipated playing again.
“It kind of rekindles the old high school atmosphere,” Bowen said.

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