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North Dakota's Hurlburt twins relish opportunity to share court in Hoop City Classic

Twins Gus and Joe Hurlburt led Enderlin (N.D.) to a win over Canton at the Hoop City Classic on Thursday afternoon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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Enderlin (N.D.) forward Joe Hurlburt throws down a two-handed dunk on a fast break during the first half of a Hoop City Classic contest against Canton on Dec. 30, 2021, at the Sanford Pentagon, in Sioux Falls. Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

SIOUX FALLS — Twin brothers Gus and Joe Hurlburt hail from Enderlin, North Dakota, but there are few basketball courts the pair know better than those at the Sanford Pentagon.

More than 250 miles separate Enderlin and the 3,250-seat basketball venue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but when Gus and Joe Hurlburt led the Enderlin High School Eagles onto Heritage Court during the high school basketball showcase known as the Hoop City Classic, it was a homecoming of sorts.

Though they hail from a community of around 900 people, nestled an hour southwest of Fargo, the twins played AAU basketball for the Sioux Falls-based Sanford Pentagon Schoolers as 14-year-olds.

“It’s just a great experience to have with my high school team,” Joe said. “The Pentagon is a super nice facility, but not a lot of people on my team have been here, so we’re just having fun getting to travel around as we get ready for the rest of the season.”

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Joe Hurlburt (23), of Enderlin (N.D.) and Jacob Vande Weerd (5), of Canton, jump for the opening tipoff of a Hoop City Classic contest on Dec. 30, 2021, at the Sanford Pentagon, in Sioux Falls. Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

While their return to Sioux Falls was primed to be a special occasion regardless of the outcome, the Hurlburts could hardly have asked for a more favorable sequence of events to make the afternoon even more memorable.

On Thursday, Joe, a 6-foot-10 forward who’s committed to play collegiately at the University of Colorado, led all scorers with 25 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double, notching nine rebounds, four steals and a pair of blocks. Meanwhile, Gus, who stands 6-foot-8, recorded an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double and surpassed 1,000 points for his prep career with a two-handed dunk in the fourth quarter, as Enderlin ran away with a 71-46 victory over Canton. And the pair did it in front of Sonja and Bill Hurlburt, their mother and father.

“This is the place to do it (win and score my 1,000th point),” Gus said. “It’s a great spot and I couldn’t be happier.”

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Enderlin (N.D.) forward Joe Hurlburt rises to shoot a layup during the first half of a Hoop City Classic contest against Canton on Dec. 30, 2021, at the Sanford Pentagon, in Sioux Falls. Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

Final season, new challenge

Gus and Joe have shared a basketball court their whole lives, which Gus regards as “awesome” because the pair “compliment each other really well and play different styles.” But as seniors, the duo has limited time left together on the hardwood — which made the opportunity for Enderlin to play in a welcome departure from the typical schedule. While the Eagles — the No. 5-ranked team in North Dakota's Class B — have a few out-of-state games on the schedule this season, that hasn’t been typical of past seasons, according to Joe.

“It’s good to see the different styles of teams from different states,” Joe said. “We just came out today and played basketball how we know and it’s just an exciting new experience.”

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Enderlin coach Calvin Kraft said that to be involved in the Hoop City Classic, an event featuring schools from five states — Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming — was a welcome experience for his team. Kraft added he hopes his players, especially the seniors, made a memory during a 24-hour stretch that included two games and plenty of travel time. Enderlin has about 90 students enrolled in grades 9-12

On Wednesday, Enderlin played a game in Minot, North Dakota, before making the 7 1/2-hour trek to Sioux Falls.

“We were lucky to get in here and jumped at it right when we got the OK to come,“ Kraft said. “We looked at pictures and watched film, but the feel and the vibe here is something you can’t see on a screen. The eyes were big when we walked in. Anything outside the ordinary is really good learning for us.”

But no matter the venue, opponent or outcome, Joe says he’s trying to take the season as it comes as he faces the prospect of moving on from high school basketball in a matter of months.

“We’re just enjoying the ride,” he said. “In a couple months, this will all be a memory, so I’m just trying to have fun right now.”

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Enderlin (N.D.) forward Joe Hurlburt rises to shoot a layup during the first half of a Hoop City Classic contest against Canton on Dec. 30, 2021, at the Sanford Pentagon, in Sioux Falls. Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

Related Topics: BASKETBALLPREP SPORTS
Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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