Another year has come and gone

Top sports stories of 2012
Dec. 29, 2012 @ 04:43 PM

2012 was a big year for Rutherford County sports. A girl's soccer team played for a state title, county high school softballs teams squared off for conference bragging rights, school records were broken and a once-forgotten football program became relevant.

Now is the time to recap this calendar year's biggest stories (in no particular order) and reminisce about the year that was.

Thomas Jefferson football starts 2012 6-0 behind Mac Martin and Co.

After recoding just one win in their short history, The Thomas Jefferson Gryphons football program racked up a perfect 6-0 record to start the 2012 season.

The 6-0 start helped the Gryphons earn their first ever playoff berth with a first-round home game.

Martin finished a spectacular season with over 1,000 yards passing and rushing with 19 total touchdowns to go along with seven interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. Will McCraw and Efrim Borders teamed up with Martin to help lead the Gyphons.

TJCA lost their final seven games but instilled unmeasurable excitement for the future.

"A lot of folks here at TJCA will be satisfied that we won a few games this year. I am not," head coach Cash said. "I want to win conference championships and playoff games. This team accomplished some great things and I am proud of them, but it is only the first step. Building a football team is more than a one year deal. It is a process. This year's team did a great job in laying a solid foundation. Now we just have to build on it."

Shannon Hines sets all-time scoring record

The scoreboard read 7:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. That's when R-S Central senior Shannon Hines set Rutherford County history.

A 12-foot baseline jumper, the first basket in the fourth quarter, put the Lady Hilltoppers in front of Patton 44-38 on Feb.1.

Hines , who finished with 25 points, moved to the top of the R-S Central AND county scoring list.

Her early fourth-quarter basket gave her 22 and allowed her to pass R-S graduate Frances Hernandez, who had held the mark at 1, 975 points since 2007.

"It means a lot to get this record," Hines said. "A lot of people will look at it and say it was something I did.

"But a lot of people have worked with me, pushed me and I owe each of them gratitude. It took a lot of hard work and tons of support from my coaches, teammates, family and friends." Moments after Hines set the record, Hernandez congratulated her at midcourt.

Lady Gryphons play for stat soccer title

The Lady Gryphons' Anna Dedmon, a junior, received the highest honor of any TJCA student-athlete when she was selected as the 2012 Player of the Year in Girl's Soccer .

Dedmon, who has over 100 career goals, helped lead the Lady Griffs to the 1A State Championship game.

In addition to Dedmon, the Lady Gryphons' Victoria Bennett, Courtney Flack and Eleora Albala were chosen as All-Conference players.

The Thomas Jefferson Lady Gryphons won almost every statistical category as they out-shot Southwest Onslow, 7-4, and earned three more corner kicks than the Lady Stallions.

But the only stat that mattered in the 1A State Championship Friday, May 26 was goals and Southwest Onslow scored a pair in the first half to top Thomas Jefferson, 2-0.

"I think we were a little in awe of the big stage," said Coach Brian Espinoza. "We were nervous and did not star t playing soccer until the last five minutes. That is completely understandable though. Right now, the team is disappointed - but they are hungry to get back here next year."

Before Espinoza starts focusing on 2013, however, he took some time to put TJCA's historic 2012 season in perspective.

"It has been a special season and a special team", he said. "They have accomplished so much this season. I am so proud of them and they should be proud of themselves. It been a great year that I won't ever forget.

Cavaliers make it to semifinals

East Rutherford basketball beat Shelby twice during the regular season but couldn't defeat the Golden Lions in the Western Regional semifinals losing 45-40 on Thursday, Mar. 2. in Greensboro.

The Cavaliers shot just 4-of-25 from 3-point range and were out-rebounded by the Golden Lions 41-34.

"We just allowed them to get the rim more than they should have," said East head coach Brad Levine after the loss.

The loss capped a 25-5 season for the Cavaliers led by Devonte Boykins.

Trojans and Cavs battle for SMAC softball title

In a neutral site game to determine the SMAC's top seed, conference co-champions Chase and East Rutherford locked horns for the third time in the 2012 season.

When the dust settled, it was the Lady Trojans who captured a 9-2 win and the top conference seed in the upcoming softball playoffs.

"This game was good practice to get ready for the playoffs," said Chase coach Daniel Bailey.

Chase put four more runs on the board in the third when three consecutive batters smacked doubles to start the frame. By the time White's two base hit rattled the fence, the Lady Trojans had grabbed a 5-1 lead. Two ground balls to the right side brought home White as Chase led 6-1.

The Lady Trojans added two more runs in the four th as Ashley Brown and Gowan doubled with one out. One batter later, Kaitlyn Smart yanked yet another double down the third base line as Gowan scored, making the tally 8-1.

Chase added another run in the fifth as Jessie Alexander walked, stole second and moved third on a wild pitch. Cavs pitcher, Klinnin Carson uncorked another wild pitch as the Trojans expanded their lead to 9-1.

East got one run back in the sixth as Gray reached on a walk. She was singled home later in the inning by Smith to account for the 9-2 final as the skies opened and the game was called off after 6.1 innings.

Owls host Military All-Stars

In a rain-shortened affair, the Forest City Owls hosted the U.S. Military All-Stars on their country-wide tour on June 22 at McNair Stadium.

"These are some of the best ball players in the country who turned down the money and the fame and decided to serve their country," said Jeremy Boler, Owls ' general manager. "It shows that there are definitely those who will take up the call for that." In addition to a baseball game, the All-Stars will also bring the flag hung at the World Trade Center site after 9-11.

Prior to the game against the U.S. Military All-Stars, a moving celebration included a presentation of the Ground Zero flag and a first pitch by Chase alum and former Marine, Brian Ebert.

Little Leaguers win state title

The Forest City Junior All-Stars Softball team captured the state title with a win over Jackson County, 10-4, in Morganton Tuesday, July 19.

The Junior team is the first team to represent District 1 with team members from four different area little leagues. Players from Boiling Springs, Chase, Forest City and Rutherfordton make up the team.

In the title game, Jenna Carter struck out 10 in the win. The team followed the state title with a trip to Florida to play in the regional tournament.