TIFTON -- Fresh off of winning the 2001-02 Region XVII title, the Abraham Baldwin Fillie basketball team received encouraging news recently.

ABAC has learned the school will host the 2002-03 GJCAA Region XVII basketball tournaments for men and women. Both events will be held March 5-8, 2003 at Gressette Gym. With ABAC winning the right to host the tourneys, the Fillies will get to defend their title at home.

The Fillies will be hoping for history to repeat not once, but twice. Not only will head coach Julie Conner's team go in as the defending league champion, the last time ABAC hosted the womens tournament in 1984, the Fillies emerged victorious.

"We are going to have our work cut out for us, but having the tournament at home will be a big benefit for us," said Conner.

Another bonus for the Fillies is the Region XVII winner will advance directly to the national tournament this season. When ABAC won last year's championship, the Fillies had to endure a tournament play-in game against Louisburg College.

"It is a one shot deal for this conference. So that only adds to the importance of the tournament this season," said Conner.

While the Fillies will be excited about defending their title at home, head coach Robert Moore's Stallion team is also happy to host the mens tournament.

The ABAC men will also hope for lightning to strike twice. The last time the Stallions hosted the region tournament was 1982 and ABAC emerged victorious that season.

"We are excited about playing the tournament at home," said Moore. "We are going to only have four players back from last year's team, so that should give us a big confidence boost getting to play the tournament at home before our ABAC crowd."

With almost an entirely new team playing for him this season, Moore does not know what to expect from his 2002-03 squad.

"I am hoping we can come together by the end of the year and peak at tournament time. With our crowd behind us here, there is no telling what we can do during the tournament," stated Moore.

While the ABAC basketball teams received the news on postseason plans recently, both teams also announced news on the preseason.

To celebrate the Oct. 1 opening of practice, ABAC is going to have "Midnight Mania" on Sept. 30.

That event will begin at 10:30 p.m. with the third annual game featuring the faculty/staff against the students. Students will also be able to take part in games for prizes.

Then at 12:01 a.m. (Oct. 1), the Fillies will have an intersquad scrimmage. That will be followed by the Stallions practicing.

There will be free juice and doughnuts for those wishing to come out and watch the first practices of the new season. Admission to the practices will also be free.

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