Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Tomorrow night the Kosciusko county basketball tournament gets under way with our county's fourteen high schools participating. As far as we have any record the first county basketball tourneys were held in the Winona Agricultural College gymnasium at Winona Lake in years immediately preceding World War I. Perhaps the first tourney was the one held there in 1915. In that year seven high schools in our county and Bourbon high from Marshall county participated. The teams entered were Beaver Dam, Milford, Etna Green, Atwood, Warsaw, Bourbon, Syracuse and Sidney.

Etna Green and Warsaw were pitted against each other in what was evidently a rough and tumble final game. The game ended in dispute and officials finally called it a tie. A week or two later, in a playoff contest, Etna Green came from behind in the last few minutes to defeat Warsaw, 17-13.

After the war the scene of the tournaments shifted to the Moose Hall in Warsaw. This hall was a large upstairs room which had formerly been the main room of the Warsaw Opera House. Atwood and Syracuse won tournaments played in the hall in 1920 and 1921 respectively.

The 1922 tournament was shifted to Pierceton because it was felt that the Moose Hall was not adequate. Not only did officials have to provide a space large enough for the playing floor, but they also had to have room from the increasing number of spectators who wished to see the games. The same fourteen schools which will participate in the tournament this year entered the 1922 contest; Syracuse defeated Warsaw by one point in the crucial game of this tourney.

From 1923 until the time that the Armory building was constructed the annual county tournaments were held in the Warsaw Community building which was built in 1922 and was located where the high school football field is now (1953).

Incidentally, most of these building in which county tournaments have been held are still standing. The Winona gym is now the Winona Lake School of Photography building. The Opera House building is still standing at the Southwest corner of Indiana and Market streets. although the community building was torn down after the Armory was built the steel beams from the old gymnasium were used in the construction of the Warsaw Park Pavilion, making that building look very much like the old Community building.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. May 5, 1953