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With 2011 coming to a close, it’s a time to look back on some of the big sports headlines for the year.
There were notable accomplishments at each school, and after much thought, I’ve put together some of my favorite memories from 2011.
New Albany basketball’s state appearance: Both the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs made it to Jackson this year, with the Lady ‘Dawgs avenging its 2010 loss in the title game, defeating Lawrence County for the 4A championship. Watching this group of girls was a lot of fun, and to their credit, the four losses they had last year were all to out of state opponents, meaning they defeated all of their Mississippi opponents.
Not to be outdone, the boys also had a great run to Jackson, and with another strong group in place, could very well make a repeat appearance in 2012.
These were only a couple of several accomplishments for NAHS this year, making the school the top athletic program in 4A for the state, named by the Clarion Ledger.
West Union’s dominance in 1A: Like New Albany in 4A, West Union was named the top 1A athletic program in the state for the third time in four years after winning state titles in boys’ bowling and girls’ cross country, as well as making it to the state championship series in fast pitch softball last May.
Much credit is given to the program, which faces many tough 1A opponents, especially in Myrtle and Ingomar.
Myrtle boys’ state tournament run: Maybe not as many people thought that the Hawks could make a fifth consecutive state tournament appearance, but this did not stop Jonathan Ashley’s team from not only doing that, but going as the north half champion for the fourth straight year.
Also of note for Myrtle this year, the slow pitch softball team had a great run in the fall, making it to the north half championship series falling to Smithville in a very dramatic and deciding third game.
East Union girls defend 2A state title in cross country: 2010 was a big year for the Lady Urchins, who won its first state title in any sport, and adding to that this year, repeated as state champs in 2A while five were named as All-State runners.
Norris Ashley earns win 1,000 on boys’ side: The longtime coach of the Falcons added another accolade in 2011, winning his 1,000th game in boys’ basketball. Ashley picked up the win on the road at Potts Camp in January, and this accomplishment goes along with nine state titles, five in boys’ basketball.
It was a great year for athletics in Union County, and I’m sure there will be much more to look forward to in 2012!