PORTSMOUTH —While it’s easy to remember 2020 for the year of the coronavirus, spring sports cancellations, and all of the outright uncertainty, there were still several noteworthy team and individual accomplishments by Scioto County student-athletes during this calendar year.
Parents, students, coaches and athletic directors alike should be commended for their efforts in ensuring their athletes competed for another year of their high school journeys while doing so safely.
Good riddance 2020, hello 2021.
Here’s a short recap of our ‘Top 5’ stories on the Scioto County high school sports scene, followed by our list of the remaining ‘Top 10’.
The 2019-20 New Boston Tigers did something no other group in program history since 1971 had accomplished — obtaining an outright Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship.
On the backs of a 22-point performance by conference player of the year Kyle Sexton, and double-digit efforts by Tanner Voiers and Chase Clark, the Tigers managed to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit and claim a three-point win and escape the ‘Flyer Dome’ as league champs.
After the prior year’s Division IV regional runner-up finish, it’s hard to imagine a better modern run for New Boston basketball.
A pair of district championships for Scioto County’s preeminent volleyball programs in the 2020 season.
Not only did Wheelersburg and South Webster win respective Division III and IV district championships, the league rivals also split head-to-head meetings and by proxy the 2020 Southern Ohio Conference Division II championship.
The Lady Pirates’ run of four consecutive Division III district titles will be tested in 2021 after the graduation of five seniors — including all-Ohio member Kylee Barney, Kaylee Darnell, Emily Boggs, Lauren Jolly and Jaiden Missler.
South Webster graduated just three seniors — and will be looking for a return to the Division IV regional stage led by future senior and all-Ohio member Faith Maloney.
The Northwest Mohawks cross country team ran to new heights in 2020 — qualifying and competing in their second-ever Division II state race.
Led by two-time all-Ohioan Landen Smith, who finished in sixth out of 168 runners, the Mohawks placed 11th out of the 20-team field with a score of 263.
If there is to be a 2021 spring sports season, expect the Mohawk runners to post similar numbers as members of their school’s track and field team.
The place, opponent, and performance of Notre Dame’s Division IV regional semifinal win over Peebles in March of this year was as if the stars perfectly aligned for an incredibly deserving group.
The 36-30 win over the Lady Indians propelled their program to new heights and a school-best finish as regional runners-up.
Rather than take our word for it, here’s what NDHS coach J.D. McKenzie had to say after possibly his and his team’s biggest win.
“We’ve been so close the last three years and felt like we had an opportunity the last three years to take that next step,” McKenzie said. “To do it tonight, to see the looks on those girls’ faces, our coaching staff, parents, fans — there’s nothing like it. Unbelievable.”
Through the point of their 2-1 Division III regional championship victory over Grandview Heights, the 2020 Wheelersburg Pirates had crafted their record to a perfect 21-0-0.
On their way to their first state semifinal appearance in program history before falling to the eventual state champion, the Pirates had surrendered just eight goals and out-scored their postseason opponents 29-2.
Pirates senior Aaron Jolly also set the Wheelersburg High School career goals mark in their sectional win over Piketon — a win that began their pace to new heights.
Wheelersburg coach Jon Estep described the feeling postgame as “unreal”.
“We prepared for this season like it was going to be the best season ever. So much hard work we’ve put in with that, and the continued effort we’ve had all year long and being able to stay healthy all year long to get to this point. This is an unreal feeling right now,” Estep said. “We’ve talked about being in this moment, but to be the first team since 1994 to get to the regional final and now the first team ever to get to the state, it’s an unreal accomplishment.”
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP 10
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved