On Selection Sunday, Janice Aaberg, the mother of North Dakota State senior forward Jordan Aaberg, priced flights from Minneapolis to Spokane, where the Bison were to face Oklahoma last Thursday. "The cheapest flight was $1,200—just too much," says Aaberg (above), who lives in Rothsay, Minn., and is the program director at the Otter Tail County Jail.
So Aaberg got creative. She got to see the No. 12--seeded Bison upset the fifth-ranked Sooners 80--75 because she, her younger son, Dexter, and Jordan's girlfriend, Courtney, drove to Spokane, a nearly 1,200-mile trip that took more than 20 hours. The group left early on Tuesday morning in Aaberg's 2007 Ford Edge, joined by the sister and girlfriend of Mike Felt, a senior guard. ("Luckily the girls are skinny," Aaberg says.) A CHECK engine indicator soon forced the quintet to stop in Valley City, N.D., to make sure nothing was wrong. They then drove until midnight, 818 total miles, before stopping in Billings, Mont. There they connected with Felt's parents, Virg and Cathy, who had trekked from their home in Redwood Falls, Minn. Virg, a high school speech teacher, had to take three days off, one of them unpaid, to make the trip.
The two groups caravanned west with little trouble until hitting a snowstorm at the Idaho border. "We are not used to driving up and down mountains. It was scary," Aaberg says. They finally arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and Janice settled with other families in a hotel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, 33 miles from Spokane because the rate of $115 a night was less than hotels closer to the arena.
Janice's crew and the Felts began their drive home immediately after the Bison's 63--44 loss on Saturday to San Diego State. Reached by phone early in the return trip, Aaberg said, "To be there with my son, his last game. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It was worth it. Definitely."
THEY SAID IT
"I'm never going to shower again. Ever. I never want to take off this uniform."
Mercer junior forward after the 14th-seeded Bears upset Duke 78--71.
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (AABERG)
GRANT HALVERSON/GETTY IMAGES (MOTEN)