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Triangle Company Caught in NCAA Hoopla

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FUQUAY-VARINA — Here's a little NCAA trivia: What NorthCarolina town couldn't help but be represented at the tournament?Here's a hint, the involvement is symbolic, but incredibly necessary.

Year after year, one Triangle company is always in the middle of the NCAA hoopla.

When you watch a game, everyone's attention is on the basket, right?But how often have you really looked at it?Have you ever noticed the name?

You'll find only Hydra-Rib backboards in the NCAA Tournamentgames, as well as quite a few in the pros, and for teams in 63 countries.So where does this backboard industry leader call home?Fuquay-Varina.

25 workers put together backboards for the world to see. Each one, aprecise molded piece of metal, weighing 3,200 pounds.

According to company president Bill Austin, here in Fuquay-Varina,"March Madness" begins in January. "And we go through 30 to 45 days of March madness preparationsand then it's on to the big game."

Since 1960, Hydra-Rib has been in the big games.Austin says the company worked with N.C. State engineers to developa backboard that withstands the extreme force basketball players put uponit."We're kind of the Timex of basketball, takes a licking andkeeps on ticking."But that doesn't mean they don't break...occasionally.

Oklahoma State's Bryant Reeves, known to fans as "Big Country," broke thefirst one in 1993. Another shattered during a tournament game againstCarolina last year.

But you can count on one hand how many Hydra-Ribs have broken over theyears, and their reputation for stability makes this Wake County company stand tall."To be able to look out on the end court of apremiere sporting event, such as college basketball, the fact that we'reon tobacco road ads further excitement to it, and it does put goosebumps up your spine to know that you were directly involved in making all that happen."

The Hydra-Rib crew has been hard at work, getting newbackboards up in the RCA Dome, in time for the Final Four.They placed locks on the nets to make sure no one practiced on them yet.In the unlikely event either of these break, they do have a backup.