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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Taylor Smith, left, and Garrett will play in their last ACAC tournament this season. The school is leaving the conference after this school year.

Last tourney before ACAC transforms

– It is transition time these days for the ACAC and its basketball tournament.

Garrett is playing in the conference for the last time this season, and Leo will be leaving after next season.

“There’s a lot of lasts,” Garrett girls coach Bob Lapadot said. “Sure it is sad but that makes it all the more motivation to win it in our last go-around.”

The Railroaders will rejoin the NECC next year, while the Lions will join a new, as yet unnamed, conference in 2015 along with Bellmont, Columbia City, DeKalb, East Noble, Huntington North, New Haven and Norwell.

“There’s a little bit more emotion behind it because of that,” Leo girls coach Carrie Shappell said. “I can see that could elevate Garrett, too. We have two more years of this (tournament), and then we are in a different situation as well.”

The changes don’t end there.

Jay County will be joining the league next year, and there have been discussions about not playing the ACAC tournament semifinals and finals at Memorial Coliseum after 60 years because of increasing expenses and dwindling attendance.

The ACAC tournament pairings for the Jan. 14-18 event were unveiled Wednesday.

The boys tournament is in its 91st year, and the girls will be playing for the 40th time. Defending boys champion Bluffton will play host to Heritage, while defending girls champion Leo is at Woodlan.

Other first-round pairings include Southern Wells at Adams Central and South Adams at Garrett. The first night of the tournament on Jan. 14 will be at host sites with girls games at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m.

The girls semifinals are Jan. 15 and the boys semifinals Jan. 16. The 10 a.m. girls finals and noon boys finals are Jan. 18, with the final two rounds at the Coliseum.

The ACAC tournament is sponsored by SportONE Ortho Northeast.

gjones@jg.net

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