The Tri-County Conference began in the 1926-27 school year. It originally was called the Tri County High School League, with Henry, Hopkins (Granville), Lostant, Magnolia, Putnam, Swaney (McNabb), Tonica and Varna as its charter schools.
Toluca leads the way with 16 TCC Tournament titles, followed by Wenona (12), Henry (11), Putnam County (10) and Roanoke-Benson (9).
The record for consecutive tournament championships is eight by Toluca from 1957-1964, with Hopkins having captured six consecutive titles from 1933-1938.
Lostant topped Tonica 23-20 in the very first league tournament title game Jan. 29, 1927. This year is the 96th edition of the event.
Here’s a dive into history and a recounting of interesting Tri-County Conference boys basketball tournament in years ending with “3,” viewed a decade at a time:
Hopkins used a 9-5 fourth-quarter advantage to top host Wenona 25-23 and snap the Mustangs’ three-year reign on the championship. Brothers Carl Swanson at Wenona and Mark Swanson at Hopkins coached the teams.
Henry defeated Toluca 38-22 in the title game thanks in part to a 23-11 second-half margin. The Mallards were led by 12 points from Bill Forrest, with Gene Steele adding eight. Toluca’s Aldo Capponi paced his squad with eight points.
Wenona slipped past Lostant 34-31 in the third-place game.
Wenona’s Don “Gozzy” Travis sank a 12-footer with five seconds remaining to boost the Mustangs to a 62-60 championship victory over Mid-County at Henry. Don Kemp netted a game-high 21 points for the Mustangs, with Jack Kovatich adding 13 and Travis 12. The Bulldogs’ Walter Blackburn popped in 18 points, while Vernon Winkler added 15.
Henry defeated Tonica 67-53 in the battle for third place.
Chuck Rolinski’s Toluca squad won its seventh of eight straight titles with a 62-52 victory at Wenona over pre-tournament favorite Mid-County, coached by Jerry Faye. The Wildcats, who had split two games with the Bulldogs, led 32-21 at halftime and made good on 32 of 38 free throws. John Bernardi had a game-best 25 points and Tony Vignali 23 for Toluca. Mid-County received 14 points each from Tom Shaffer and Keith Kenyon.
Lowpoint-Washburn took a 67-57 decision from Wenona in the third-place game.
Second-seeded host Wenona, coached by Phil Martin, pushed to a 13-point halftime lead in a 68-55 win over Rolinski’s top-seeded Toluca club. The Mustangs were led by 22 points from Steve Flahaven, with Randy Burke adding 16 and Bob Peterson 14 points and nine rebounds. Mike Rinker posted 22 points and 14 rebounds for Toluca, while Steve DeRubeis had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
In the third-place game, two free throws with 24 seconds left by Joel Pelz lifted Lowpoint-Washburn over Henry-Senachwine 57-55. Pelz and the Mallards’ Larry Kolb each scored 19 points.
Top seed Toluca and Rolinski earned their first title in 11 years with a 55-47 triumph over Dave Mead’s No. 3-seeded Putnam County squad in Wenona. The Wildcats made good on 13 of 17 free throws in the final two minutes to help seal the win. Both squads had earned thrilling two-point wins in the semifinals. Todd Rankin paced Toluca with a game-high 19 points, while Rick Hamlet and Dave North scored 10 points each. Jeff Palm led the Panthers with 17 points, with Bobby Draper and Rick Bean adding nine each.
Mid-County defeated Roanoke-Benson 65-64 in the third-place game, as Charlie Keffeler and Jeff Winkler scored 17 points each for the Bulldogs. The Rockets’ Curt Hasler poured in a game-best 25 points.
Roanoke-Benson, the top seed, used a trio of free throws in the final seconds by Tony Mueller to slip past No. 2-seeded Mid-County 64-62 for the title at Henry. Muller led the Rockets with 19 points, with Nate Sauder and Jeremy Zimmerman adding 10 apiece. The Bulldogs’ Jeff Davis paced all scorers with 20 points, with Eric Nave adding 12 and David Anderson 11.
Putnam County topped Lostant 64-54 for third place. Shane Smith netted a game-high 24 points, Rob Spratt 18 and Brian Passini 14 for the Panthers. The Rams received 18 points from Damon Scorn, 13 from Greg Maurice and 11 from Brad Rauba.
Coach John Slingsby’s Putnam County squad, the host and No. 5 seed, trailed by two entering the fourth against No. 2 Eureka but eventually claimed a 68-61 triumph for a first title since 1982. Steve Gabrielse scored 19 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Panthers while John Paul Ramirez posted 12 points and Kris Doyle 11. The Hornets’ Ryan Eigsti sank six 3s and netted a game-high 22 points.
St. Bede topped Lowpoint-Washburn 75-70 in overtime in the third-place game.
Putnam County’s Harold Fay poured in a game-high 31 points and grabbed six rebounds in the No. 2-seeded Panthers’ 64-63 victory over No. 5 Hall in Granville. Cody Veronda added nine points and three steals for PC, while Xavier Warren registered eight points. The Red Devils, who had a potential game-winning shot miss at the final horn, were led by 18 points from Brett Fanning, 12 from Austin Schmitt and 10 from Miguel Villareal.
Woodland, the No. 3 seed which fell to PC in triple overtime in the semifinals, defeated No. 8-seeded Roanoke-Benson 58-48 for third place. Jon Hays poured in a game-high 22 points for the Warriors, with Zane Noonan adding 13 and Nate Roemer eight. Charlie Sullivan and Michael Doss (seven rebounds) scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for R-B.