Tourney which began in early 1950s when conference was founded scrapped for 2019 Monday (Feb. 11) after five-straight days of postponements
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
TINA, Mo. — The Carroll-Livingston Activity Association (CLAA) made history over the weekend, just not the kind it wanted.
With its members’ high school basketball teams set to begin play in district tournaments at the end of this week or first of next week, CLAA school officials and Jana Holcer, superintendent of long-time host school Tina-Avalon, with no good options and only complex, uncertain, undesirable poor ones, bowed to the elements and, in an historic occurrence, proclaimed the league’s 2018-19 conference high school basketball tournament cancelled.
Not crowning a high school-level conference-tournament champion had never before happened since the league’s formation in time for the 1952-53 school year. Ever since its debut, the CLAA – now a 10-schools (nine basketball programs) loop – not only had conducted regular-season, round-robin play to determine a season-longchampion, but also hosted a league-only tournament.
Having both has provided an opportunity – one used many times – for a strong team which might have suffered an ill-timed, but temporary, regular-season injury to a player or players that cost it a regular-season loss or two to redeem itself by capturing the crown in the late-season tournament. It also allowed a team which performed best through the regular season to be crowned champion, even if a late-season injury or illness or simply poor play kept it from emerging from the tournament on top.
This year’s tournament, however, broke unfortunate new ground because it could not break winter’s icy grip.
After beginning on time Feb. 2 with its two first-round (“play-in”) games at T-A School, the first night of quarterfinals play also came off without a hitch Monday, Feb. 4. However, beginning the next day and evening, weather and difficult, potentially-hazardous travel conditions prompted the first of five nights in a row of postponed action.
With only six of the scheduled 24 contests games played as this week dawned and more bad weather happening and in the offing, there was little choice but for the conference to “bite the bullet” and make the historic decision to call off the rest of the long-popular tourney.
That leaves the Norborne Lady Pirates and Mendon: Northwestern Eagles, the regular-season title-winners, with unique distinctions as the CLAA’s lone champions of 2018-19. Technically, there have been several times when the same teams claimed both the regular-season and tourney crowns.