It was Hoosier Hysteria in a packed Kouts gymnasium, where the Annual Porter County Conference Tournament attracted some of the most hardcore basketball fans in the Region.
The PCC, founded in 1958, is a collection of some of the Region’s smallest, but most closely-knit schools. It makes for the perfect tribute to the classic, small-town Indiana basketball culture made famous by the film “Hoosiers.” The PCC Tournament’s history stretches back even further, beginning as a 10-team event back in 1924 before the conference officially formed.
During the tourney, players on all eight teams in the conference battle for glory to huge hometown crowds.
“It’s my favorite event of the year, and it’s so important to the small schools in the greater Valpo area,” said Blake Henderson, a senior at Westville High School. “This is the one day all year that I think you could probably find every single student in this pep block. It gets us all out here and really makes us proud.”
The pep blocks battle each other with chants to cheer players on the court. Student sections and themed nights are not uncommon for most high schools, but the PCC supporters bring a different level of energy. Westville’s fans coordinated by donning Harry Potter-themed costumes, waving their wands and casting spells in the South Central players. For some boys and girls on the court, competing in front of packed crowds is a defining moment of their high school careers.
“To us, this is bigger than sectionals. Everyone is out here supporting us and it’s an entirely different environment,” said Brent Wireman, a senior point guard for Kouts High School. “I even played with the flu one time because I was so excited to get on the court my freshman year.”
Wireman’s squad is having a good year, sitting on a 9-1 record, which makes it fair to call them the favorites in the conference alongside Washington Township. Despite their record, the Kouts players and coaches said the tournament is a separate entity, and if they were not careful, Boone Grove would easily knock them out of the tournament in the first round. Once they step on the court, nothing matters but the one game being played and the fans in the stands.
“It’s an honor to be leading these guys, no doubt about it,” said Kevin Duzan, Head Coach of the Kouts Mustangs. “It’s been a dream of mine since I came to Kouts to coach the varsity boys during this tournament. I could not be any prouder to have the team here to represent our school.”
The Kouts boys successfully defended their home turf that evening, but a lot of basketball remains to be played. Kouts High School is hosting the championship games January 24, and all the remaining teams are eager to take the title. To learn more about the history behind the PCC, visit pccsports.com.