PCC tourney

Washington Township hopes to end a string of tough losses, including last year's overtime defeat to Westville, in this week's Porter County Conference tournament. The school has never won the title, but the Senators are undefeated.

File, The Times

WASHINGTON TWP. — The Porter County tournament, the predecessor of the Porter County Conference tournament, tipped off in 1924 with an inaugural 10-team event.

If you're a Washington Township, player, coach, student, alum, teacher or administrator, you probably know where this story line is going.

Sorry.

The 95th edition of the boys basketball tourney tips Wednesday at Hebron and, yes, the Senators have never won it. Not once.

Up until the glorious 2016 World Series, they were the Cubs of the PCC, but even the North Siders could look back, albeit 108 years at the time, to a team having experienced a championship.

For most of its existence, Washington hasn't been good in hoops. With just 19 winning seasons and nary a sectional title over the better part of a century, downright bad would be a more accurate adjective.

Until Scott Bowersock got things rolling five years ago, the program's best stretch was from 1993 to 98, when Paul Curtis coached them to six winning seasons, but no hardware.

In 2015, the frustration took on a different meaning. The Senators, no longer a doormat, had become a regular tourney contender. They reached the finals that year, losing in overtime to Morgan Township. Twelve months later, it was another two-point heartbreaker, this time at the hands of Boone Grove. Last season, Washington met Westville in an unforgettable first-round game, falling 59-58, again in OT.

Just to recap those unhappy totals, that's three years, three losses, two in the finals, two in overtime, by five points.

Through it all, Bowersock has remained resolute, undeterred, unshaken. He doggedly refuses to let the soul-crushing setbacks break players' spirits and sidetrack Washington's overall progress.

As much as he's probably heard about what the program hasn't done, he's also, at least in the last week or so, heard around school that this is finally going to be the year.

He rolled his eyes at the thought after Tuesday's impressive win over Marquette Catholic, the first time the Senators had beaten the Blazers in five meetings. It was subject non grata, especially with a big matchup against Kouts in between. The game was postponed, meaning it will have been an eight-day break by the time Washington hits the floor Thursday versus Morgan.

There isn't any talk of droughts, perfect records or favorite's labels, at least not in the Senators' inner circle. The only talk will be what it's always been, sticking with the process, the one that's gotten them to this point, where they are 10-0 and ranked sixth in the state in Class A.

Bowersock's great about staying in the moment and at this moment, he really likes where his team is.

"We teach them to play with confidence," he said. "It's believing in the brotherhood, in the philosophy of the program. The unique thing about this team is every player has a role and they embrace their role. It's a family. There is no selfishness. They just want to win and they lay it out on the floor, playing hard until the horn sounds to get the win."

If the Senators finally raise the Gold Ball, there are going to be a ton of happy folks from the Washington community and I would hazard to guess, plenty around the rest of the PCC who will be happy for them.

If they don't win, Bowersock will rally his team and get them ready for the rest of the season, the PCC round-robin and a run at that equally elusive sectional — just as he's done every other January he's been coach.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.

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Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.