Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part story that will be looking back at the 10 best stories of the 2011-12 high school sports season from the Ohio Valley Publishing area. Stories 8-10 will appear today, stories 5-7 will be included in Friday’s sports edition and the top four stories will be part of the weekend sports edition.
You like a good story?
Sure you do, and who doesn’t?
With the end of the 2011-12 school year coming a few weeks ago, I took some time to look back at what all happened this sports season in the Ohio Valley Publishing area — which pertains to Meigs, Gallia and Mason counties.
What I found in my research was a sports year that featured a lot of amazing stories, way too many to try and list one-by-one. In revisiting all the stories from the last 10 months of high school competition, I came away with what I believe to be the 10 very best stories to come out of the 2011-12 sports campaign.
And that is what I will share with you, starting now.
10. Rebels and Roundball:
Record-wise, it wasn’t the most successful boys basketball campaign in South Gallia’s 16-year history. From a postseason aspect, however, the Rebels’ 13-10 overall mark never looked better.
South Gallia, which finished tied for fifth in the TVC Hocking (9-7), ended the regular season with an 11-9 mark after dropping eight of its final 13 contests headed into tournament play.
But after struggling through injuries, illnesses and other unforeseeable events throughout most of the regular season, the Rebels got well at just the right time — headed into Division IV tournament play.
SGHS squeaked out a 60-52 victory over Ironton Saint Joseph to claim the school’s fourth sectional title, then used that momentum the following week in knocking off top-seeded Portsmouth Notre Dame 47-44 for the program’s first-ever district victory.
The Rebels’ magical run ultimately came to an end a few nights later after suffering a 64-55 setback to Pike Eastern in the district championship, but the Red and Gold did not come away empty-handed in defeat.
SGHS was the last Tri-Valley Conference team — Ohio or Hocking Division — left standing in boys basketball this past winter, and the Rebels also joined Gallia Academy as the only Gallia County schools to have ever appeared in a district final.
South Gallia — which also won sectional basketball titles in 2005, 2006 and 2011 — was also the only Ohio school to qualify for the football playoffs this past fall.
Other notables from this past basketball season that won’t be mentioned later on include both the Southern boys and Point Pleasant girls winning sectional titles, as well as Isaac Lee (Wahama) and Pete Carman (OVCS) eclipsing the 1,000-point scoring plateau for their respective careers.
9. A Runner’s World. Thrower’s too.
Left, right, left, right — and repeat. There’s simply more to it than that.
During both the fall and spring, the OVP area had several athletes break down barriers by putting one foot in front of the other. More importantly, those efforts led to some historic moments for those athletes — both individually and as a member of a program.
Gallia Academy senior Peyton Adkins completed a stellar career in style after winning her first SEOAL athlete of the year award this spring as the top point-scorer at the league track meet. Adkins, a 10-time SEOAL champion in track and field, also became the first female to ever win four individual SEOAL championships in cross country.
Adkins, who is headed to Ohio University in the fall to continue her running career, is also a six-time All-Ohio recipient in both cross country and track.
Senior Tyler Cline became the first male athlete at Eastern to ever finish on the podium in two separate years at the state track meet. Cline, for the second straight year, finished fourth overall in the Division III discus event — making him the only Eagle to ever score at state twice.
Cline’s fourth-place finish matches the best-ever in school history (Kyle Connery was 4th in the 400m dash in 2011) and that duo also joins Mike Johnson (tied for 7th in the high jump in 2010) as the only male placers in Eastern history.
Southern’s Kody Wolfe became the first SHS runner to ever qualify multiple times for the D-3 state cross country meet after earning his second straight appearance this past fall. The junior followed that effort by becoming the first Tornado to ever qualify for multiple events at the Division III state track meet a few weeks ago.
Wolfe won his second straight TVC title in cross country this fall and was also part of three league titles in track.
Gallia and Meigs counties combined to send 14 athletes to the state track meet, and Gallia Academy senior Mckenna Warner also earned her first career All-Ohio honor in cross country after appearing at the state meet all four years of her career.
Point Pleasant junior Andrea Porter qualified for her second straight state cross country final and also had a pair of runner-up efforts at the state track meet, one of just 35 athletes from Mason County to qualify for the state track and field championships.
The Big Blacks finished second overall as a team in Class AA and the Lady Knights were 7th overall at the state track meet. The Wahama boys also finished 10th overall as a team at the Class A meet.
8. Diamond Gems.
Collectively, there are a total of 18 baseball and softball teams in the OVP area. And of those 18 programs, a dozen finished the 2012 spring with 13 or more victories.
Needless to say, there were some pretty good local squads that took to the diamond this year.
Seven of those 12 programs recorded at least 20 wins apiece and four teams advanced to regional play, but only one (Point Pleasant baseball) made it to the state tournament.
The baseball teams from PPHS, Southern, Gallia Academy, Wahama and Meigs all won 20-or-more games this spring, while the softball programs at Eastern and Wahama also reached 20-or-more victories this past season. Wahama was also the only school in the OVP area that had a pair of 20-win seasons in each sport.
Diamond teams from the area combined to win five league titles, 10 sectional crowns, a district title and a regional crown in the span of two months.
With due respect to the baseball teams at Southern and Point Pleasant (both of which will show up a little later on this list), the biggest story to come away from the diamond this spring may have been at Gallia Academy.
The Blue Devils — who won their second straight outright SEOAL championship — eclipsed the 20-win plateau for the first time in school history. GAHS — which went 22-7 overall — also managed to get into extra innings while searching for the program’s first-ever district title before ultimately succumbing to Miami Trace by a 4-2 count.
Other teams this spring with 13-or-more wins on the diamond included Eastern baseball, Gallia Academy softball, Point Pleasant softball, Meigs softball and Southern softball. South Gallia softball — which finished 9-14 overall — also managed to win a sectional title for the second consecutive year.