The girls side of the Allen County Athletic Conference Tournament kicks off Tuesday, January 8 with host sites carrying double headers. The girls games will be played at 7:30 p.m. after the boys games, which will be held at 6 p.m. with Jay County visiting Adams Central, Woodlan playing at South Adams and Heritage heading to Southern Wells.

The tournament will continue with games throughout the week, culminating in a championship game on Saturday, January 12 at South Adams High School.

So lets take a deeper look at the seven ACAC schools and what could help them to contend for a conference tournament title now that Jay County has clinched the regular season conference title.

ADAMS CENTRAL (10-7, 2-4 ACAC)

Why they could contend

The Flying Jets are in the midst of their first 10 win season in a decade and it has people paying attention to this team and also given them a lot of confidence. They get the luxury of being the team to try and dethrone Jay County first. As many teams can learn on Sectional week, a lot of wacky things can happen in a Tuesday night draw. Adams Central will have to control the glass in that opener to leave a mark in the Patriots.

Potential tournament star

McKenna Dietsch has been the most consistent offensive player for Adams Central thus far. Is her best game yet to come in Tuesday’s opener. If she could find an early rhythm against Jay County, she could steal the show of the tournament early.

Potential tournament breakout player

Brooklyn Salway has quality court vision and the Flying Jets are going to be looking for easy baskets. Whether she is scoring them or assisting on them, most quality looks will go through Salway’s hands.

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Bluffton coach Karl Grau talks to a couple of his players during an early season practice.

BLUFFTON (8-8, 3-2 ACAC)

Why they could contend

Tournaments often rely on teams to have three quality scorers to space out opposing defenses and the Tigers have that in Emme Boots, Grace Miller and Olivia King. A bye helps them, as it would help anyone and coming off a loss to Jay County, it would be hard to say the Tigers aren’t as motivated as ever to try and dethrone the Patriots.

Potential tournament star

Emme Boots has really come into her own as a sophomore and has rarely not been able to get going in a game. A concentrated shooter, Boots is one of the handful of girls in the ACAC capable of putting up a 20 point game every single night if the shots are falling.

Potential tournament breakout player

Olivia King has stepped up as the third scoring option for Bluffton. She is tough as nails and is capable of having big defensive moments that turn into big offensive moments for the team.

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Heritage’s Nevaeh Feasby defends the interior during a December 15 game at Woodlan.

HERITAGE (11-4, 3-2 ACAC)

Why they could contend

Coach Melissa Connor’s team has the chance to play a physical brand of basketball that will benefit them if they can stay out of foul trouble. This team is well rested, playing just one game since mid-December and in this marathon of a week, that is important too.

Potential tournament star

Bree Dossen is one of the top players in the ACAC and if she is able to impose her will, she will be tough to defend. She gets to the line better than anyone on her team and also leads them in shooting percentage with a team high 14.3 points per game.

Potential tournament breakout player

Nevaeh Feasby is a veteran of the ACAC Tournament by now and her experience and leadership qualities are things that any team would want to latch on to.

JAY COUNTY (9-7, 5-0 ACAC)

Why they could contend

Because they are perfect in the conference and have played the most challenging schedule. The Patriots are in a weird place as the ACAC’s only Class 4A school. They have to play a tough regular season stretch to prepare for the postseason. And that means their overall record isn’t always the best. But, it means they are tough to beat in conference. Their 19 point win last Friday at Bluffton was the closest of their five conference wins.

Potential tournament star

Shelby Caldwell has closed out her career with big numbers, almost regardless of who the Patriots play. Her program record 41 points will stand as arguably the most impressive mark of any player this season. 41 points isn’t something that is just easy to come by.

Potential tournament breakout player

Madison Dirksen is a freshman that we will hear about for years to come. She has five double digit scoring games in this year, but it is her rebounding that can be a game changer in helping the Patriots get as many second chance points as they can. Almost half of her team second best rebounds this year are on the offensive end.

SOUTH ADAMS (9-8, 2-3 ACAC)

Why they could contend

South Adams has been winning close games, with two of their last three games coming with overtime victories. Kind of quietly, the Starfires have nine wins in a year that was supposed to be a severe rebuilding season. If they can keep games close, they have the ability to close and we’ve seen that lately.

Potential tournament star

Lydia Loshe shoots the ball at a 56 percent rate from inside the arch and is a big threat offensively for the Starfires. With a couple of 20-plus point games under her belt, she has shown to be one of the better scorers in the conference at her best.

Potential tournament breakout player

Emilee Myers is one of the most experienced Starfires in the lineup and it has shown she learned from those before her. Myers is crafty at getting a lot of shots up in a game and maximizing the Starfire offensive output. She was critical in last Friday’s overtime win over Southern Wells with 18 points.

SOUTHERN WELLS (4-13, 0-5 ACAC)

Why they could contend

The Raiders are playing with a sense of urgency and desperation during a 10 game losing streak that has seen them come so close to victory with back to back overtime losses. They are hungry to get back in the win column for the first time since November 20.

Potential tournament star

Georgia Hanauer has bookended her season so far with big time performances. Her 22 points in the season opener against Blackhawk Christian showed she could be a force to reckon with. Last Friday, when they almost beat South Adams, she scored a game high 24 points. She is capable of getting to the line and hitting with precision.

Potential tournament breakout player

Jenna Eltzroth hit a critical shot in a near win over South Adams to force overtime last Friday. She does a lot of little things well for the Raiders and is clearly capable of taking an important shot.

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Woodlan’s Addie Bayman plays defense during a December 15 game against Heritage.

WOODLAN (12-5, 3-2 ACAC)

Why they could contend

Woodlan has the most wins of anyone in the ACAC right now and sit at the 3-2 longjam for second place in the regular season. Gary Cobb’s team is playing with grit and no quit. That makes them dangerous on their side of the bracket. They play with relative depth as well, which is always a key come tournament time.

Potential tournament star

Addie Bayman demands respect the way she controls the court on every trip offensively, but most importantly defensively. Woodlan will look for her to set the tone every game and if she can take the ball away as she has done all year (4.8 steals per game), it will be hard for teams to get into the flow against the Warriors.

Potential tournament breakout player

Dakotah Krohn has seen her confidence shoot up through her freshman season. While Woodlan has plenty more experienced players who contribute numbers wise more, Krohn’s confidence shines and she is due for a big breakout game.

ACAC

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