History of the Porter County Tournament

Chesterton High School, under the supervision of Fred Cole, Porter County superintendent of school, hosted the first annual Porter County Tournament. The tourney was sponsored by the Porter County Principals Association. The games were played, February 8 and 9, 1924, in the newly constructed Chesterton High School gymnasium. Invitations were sent to all of the schools in Porter County. Eight boys' teams and five girls' teams responded. The boys teams were; Washington Twp, Union Center, Chesterton, Morgan Twp, Wheeler, Crisman, Kouts, and Boone Grove. Washington Twp, Chesterton, Morgan Twp, Union Center, and Crisman were represented with girls' teams. Three games were played Friday evening, with the remaining eight games being played on Saturday. Morgan Twp won on the girls' side, beating Washington Twp 7-6. Chesterton ran away with the boys honors, beating Wheeler 36-8.

In 1925, the tourney moved to Valparaiso University. The games were played on Friday afternoon and Saturday. The same boys' teams entered, while the Boone Grove girls replaced the Union Center girls in the five team field. The Valparaiso Daily Vidette reported that, "Valpo and Hebron had been excluded from playing in the tourney again this year". By 1924, Valpo had clearly established its superiority to the other county schools, and was never considered for participation in the tournament. Itís true that Hebron had a good team in 1924, but very questionable whether the article is correct about them being prohibited from participating.

The Hebron and Liberty Twp boys' teams joined the tourney in 1926, while Union Center dropped out. Three new girls teams, Wheeler, Valpo, and kouts, also joined the tourney. The added teams made it necessary to play all day Friday as well as all day Saturday. All of the county schools dismissed classes on Friday, so students could attend the games.

The tourney increased to 17 teams in 1927 when the Hebron girls fielded a team. The Vidette Messenger presented, for the first time, the boys traveling trophy. The Gold Ball Awards, for the best boy and girl player in the tourney, were awarded for the first time. The awards were donated by the Hood Rubber Co., and obtained through J. Lowenstine and son, Valparaiso. The recipients of the first Gold Ball Awards were Alvin Witte, of Chesterton, and Doris Shearer of Wheeler.

After sitting out a year, the Liberty Twp boys returned to the tourney. The girlís team from Liberty Twp also entered for the first time in 1928, as the tourney returned to Chesterton High School.

The newly constructed Boucher Gym was the host of the 1929 tourney. Kouts did not have a boys or girls team. Two new awards were presented. The criteria for the awards were mental attitude, based on attitude on the floor, value to team, classroom work, and willingness to cooperate. Fred Cole sponsored the girlís award and Fred Moltz, a local jeweler, sponsored the boyís award.

In 1930, Fred Cole had the idea to present one boy and one girl from each school with a blue ribbon for mental attitude. This was also the year that Chesterton sent its "B" team to compete in the tourney. The Valpo girls dropped out of the tournament in 1931, as the teams played at Chesterton High School for the last time.

Boucher Gym was the scene of the tournament once again in 1932. The tournament would be played there until 1975. The Kouts boys' team returned to action. The Chesterton Tribune Trophy was awarded to the championship girls' team.

First round losers in the boys' bracket played a consolation round, starting in 1933. The four teams played a semi final round and the consolation championship game. Kouts was not represented again in this years tourney. The cheering award was presented for the first time. Portage won the award, with Mildred Bonham accepting the five pound box of chocolates, donated by V. L. Philley.

1935 was the last year for the girls' tournament. It was reported that Porter County was the only county in Indiana to have a girls' basketball tourney. This was also the first year that a permanent championship trophy was awarded to the boys champions along with the traveling trophy.

The tournament changed very little over the next several decades. Kouts rejoined the tourney in 1936 and Jackson Twp had its first team in 1937. The tournament changed to a three day affair in 1941. Evening games on Thursday and Friday eliminated the need to dismiss classes in the county schools. The last consolation round was played in 1945. After winning ten of the previous twelve tourneys and with their enrollments growing, Chesterton and Portage withdrew after the 1958 season. The eight smaller county schools formed the Porter County Conference before the 1958-59 school year, and continued playing the tournament.

In 1963, the Gold Ball Award was renamed the M. E. Dinsmoore Award. Mr. Dinsmoore was the superintendent of Porter County Schools for 29 years. The award changed from an MVP award to a mental attitude award.

Following the 1968-69 school year, Jackson Twp and Liberty Twp were reorganized into the Duneland School Corporation. The remaining six teams participated through 1972. Hanover Central, from Lake County, joined the PCC in 1973. Although it was still the Porter County Principals Association Tournament not a PCC tourney, Hanover Central began Participating. The same was true when LaCrosse and Westville, both from LaPorte County, joined the conference in 1976. Even though the name didnít change, the tournament had become a tournament for the PCC.

The PCC added girls' sports in the 1973-74 school year. A PCC tourney was played at Morgan Twp High School, at the end of the season. Kouts won the first tourney beating Boone Grove 56-42. The girls PCC tourney was played two years before the IHSAA state tournament. Morgan Twp hosted the first three tournaments.

In 1975-76, the boys tourney moved to the new Valparaiso High School. The girls tourney was rotated around the PCC schools. The first several years of the girls tourney were played after all the teams were eliminated from the state tournament.

Glenda Snyder of Kouts won the first James W. Dold award for mental attitude in 1979. Mr. Dold was the principal at Washington Twp. High school for 30 years, during which time he was a "founding father" of the PCC. Mr. Dold was also instrumental in the formation of girls' sports in Indiana, during the time he was on the IHSAA board of control and board of directors.

The girls tourney was moved to the same week as the boys tourney in 1981. The first round and semi-finals continued to be played at rotating sites with the final being played at Valpo High School before the boys final. In 1987, the site for the girls tourney was moved permanently to Morgan Twp for the first two rounds with the championship game continuing to be played before the boys' championship game. From 1994-97, pom-pon squads from each school participated in competition. 1997 was the last year that Westville was a part of the PCC.

The dissolution of the Porter County Principals Association, before the 1997-98 school year, prompted PCC administrators to officially make the boys' tournament a PCC tournament. With the unavailability of central facilities, the PCC was forced to make changes in the tournament. A common draw was held for both the boys and girls. The first round games were played at sites determined by the draw. The boys' semi finals and finals were played at Boone Grove, while the girls played the semi finals at Morgan Twp. with the finals also being played at Boone Grove.

In 2001 the conference voted to return the tournament to one site. The entire boys tourney was played at Boone Grove, while the girls played all games except the final at Morgan Twp. The cheering award was also reinstated. Wheeler withdrew from the conference after the 2002-03 school year. South Central replaced Wheeler the following year.

From its inception, the Porter County Tourney has emphasized good competition between neighbors, but more importantly has stressed the value of good sportsmanship and mental attitude.