The New Prairie basketball programs will be in action next week in the 53rd annual Bi-County Tournament, sponsored by Teachers Credit Union.
Despite the name, the event features eight schools from four counties. Junior varsity and varsity teams from both boys and girls programs compete.
Varsity action gets underway on Tuesday, January 16, with first round girl/boy doubleheaders at four different sites.
The New Prairie varsity teams open at home against John Glenn for the second straight year. Tip off for the girls game is scheduled for 6:30pm EST. The boys game will follow around 8:00pm EST.
Consolation and semifinal rounds will then be played at LaVille High School on Thursday for the girls and Friday for the boys tournament.
For the junior varsity squads, New Prairie opens at John Glenn on Monday, January 15 at 6:00pm EST. Junior varsity semifinals will be played at LaVille on Wednesday, January 17.
All four title games are scheduled for Saturday, January 20 at LaVille’s Dale E. Cox Gym.
For the first time since 1974, the Cougars (4-5) enter the Bi-County Tournament as the defending champions. New Prairie ended the longest championship drought in tournament history last year, defeating Bremen, 47-32, in the title game.
After two weeks off during the holidays, New Prairie was back in action last Friday in a 70-41 loss at South Bend Washington. Despite the lopsided final, it was a four-point game at halftime. The Cougars were led by sophomore guard Chase Ketterer with 18 points.
The Cougars were slated to host Buchanan on Tuesday, January 9 in their last tune-up game before the mid-season tournament.
A tough schedule to prepare for the Bi-County worked for New Prairie in 2017, as the Cougars came into last year’s tournament on a four-game losing streak before rattling off five straight wins.
New Prairie faces a familiar foe in the first round, as conference rival John Glenn (8-2) comes to town for the first of two meetings between the schools this season. Glenn, which has won a record 14 Bi-County titles, has a marquee win over Mishawaka Marian earlier this season.
The winner of the New Prairie-Glenn game will advance to play the winner of Oregon-Davis (4-4) and Argos (7-2).
Glenn defeated Oregon-Davis earlier this season, while the Cougars will square off with the Bobcats on February 17.
Four former Northern State Conference rivals make up the bottom half of the bracket. Bremen (3-6) hosts perennial 1A power Triton (3-4).
Host LaVille (12-0) looks to be a favorite in the field, as the Lancers have gotten off to an undefeated start. They open with a struggling Culver (1-10).
While the Cougars graduated 2017 Bi-County Tournament MVP Kody Webb, it’s worth noting that New Prairie won the junior varsity tournament last year as well.
On the girls side, the regular season is winding down. The Cougars (3-12) are under construction as first year coach Ric Mauch begins to build a program.
Mauch previously spent six successful years at South Bend St. Joseph, winning three sectionals and a regional title. Mauch recently reached a milestone with his 100th career win over South Bend Clay on December 15.
New Prairie faces a difficult first round test against defending tournament champion John Glenn (13-4). The Falcons defeated the Cougars 55-17 on December 27.
Besides John Glenn, the only other team in the girls field with a winning record is LaVille (12-4). The Lancers fell to the Falcons, 55-47 on December 19.
A potential dark horse in the girls tournament would be Oregon-Davis (7-8). The Bobcats were scheduled to face John Glenn on January 9 in a rivalry game which should show where each team stands heading into the tournament.
Tickets for the Bi-County are $15 for admission to the full tournament or $5 per session. Pre-school age and under are free.