Top MOV sports moments of 2016

Last year about this time, yours truly established a new Christmas tradition here at the paper. I brought to you the top moments in the Mid-Ohio sports world for 2015 with the plan of making the list an annual thing.

Well another year has gone by and fortunately I am once again able to share with you the top moments from MOV athletic action only this time for 2016.

Controversy kicks off the list as I had a tough time deciding where to place these first two teams on the list. Both won state championships and were more than deserving of the top spot. However, the team I eventually went with left its mark on state history.

The Gilmer County girls’ basketball team toppled seven-time defending champion Huntington St. Joe’s in the title game 42-41 for the top spot on this list. Not only did the Titans win halt an impressive streak from the Irish but it also kept them from tying the Northfork boys for the most consecutive state title reigns (8).

Amy Chapman and company used a stifling defense to hold the Irish well below their season average in points. The performance included holding the potent Irish offense to zero field goals from the 6:36 mark of the final period until nine seconds left in the game.

Center Riley Fitzwater altered several shots and swatted seven of them in a great post performance.

However, the spotlight of the game went to the Titans’ Kylie Shuff who put her team on her back in the third period and made sure GCHS didn’t go down without a fight. The now-senior scored 12 of her 20 points in the period to bring the Titans within one heading into the final period.

Coming in at number two, by the thinness of a dime, is a team completing its championship season earlier this month in the St. Marys football team. Jodi Mote and his team claimed the first Class A title in school history after taking down East Hardy 23-8 in Wheeling just a few weeks ago.

While the entire season was an impressive feat for the Pleasants County school, the final three wins may be the cherry on top. The combined record for the last trio of the Blue Devils’ opponents was 33-0, all with great offenses, and SMHS only gave up eight points in those games.

Parkersburg South takes up the next two spots on this list. Both the wrestling and boys swim teams claimed state titles this season.

Let us take a journey back to Feburary 25-27 in Huntington. PSHS and head man Shaun Smith arrived the defending state champions and had every intention of repeating. Prospects were looking good with the Patriots qualifying a wrestler in every weight class. Fast forward through the first day and Smith and company accumulated enough points to take the championship.

As a bonus, then-sophomore Luke Martin (113) and then-junior Justin Allman (195) won individual state titles as well. Six more South grapplers also placed in their individual weight classes.

Five days earlier, the blue and white with a touch of red supporters celebrated the first state title of the year when the boys swim team won a state title. Senior Garrett Fink saved his best for very last and his leg of the 400 free relay was the difference in South’s one-point win over George Washington. Fink and his three teammates had to finish one spot ahead of GW in the final event of the evening to win the title. It just so happens the one spot was the exact margin for Steve Lutz and his program.

The final spot on the list is a tie because I wanted to find a way to get all the state champion teams in the top moments without leaving anyone out.

Williamstown boys track sent long-time head man Doak Markley out in style when they claimed the Class A title in May at Laidley Field in Charleston. The Yellowjackets edged out St. Marys by a single-point and took the top prize.

We have to cross the Ohio River for the other team in my last spot. The Waterford girls basketball team claimed the District IV state title in one of the most bewildering champion performances I had heard about in a long time. Usually when a team shoots 18 percent (yes … 18 percent) from the field they would not expect to win much of anything. However, tough defense and a lucky roll with time winding down sent the green-and-white contingent and its team into a frenzy after the final buzzer sounded in Columbus.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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