As 2013 comes to a close, The Daily News is taking a look back at the top 10 local sports stories of the year. We will count down from 10 to four today and reveal the top three local sports stories of the year on Tuesday.
This year’s success stories include team conference and district titles along with plenty of individual accomplishments. Today’s stories feature teams from all six local schools in six different sports.
10. Montabella girls XC places ninth in Division 4
After a few years with individual state qualifiers, the Montabella Mustangs girls cross country team did some damage as a team.
For the first time in school history, the Mustangs girls cross country team qualified for the Division 4 state finals.
The Mustangs placed third at the regional race with 74 points, which trailed only Breckenridge (40) and Beal City (41). The third place regional finish followed a first-ever league championship, as well.
Montabella beat Carson City-Crystal for the the Mid-State Athletic Conference title in October.
Earning all-league honors were Taylor Smith and Kensington Garvey. Kim Buskirk and Alyvia Karcher were honorable mention.
Hoping to finish in the top 10 at the state finals, the Mustangs did even better with a ninth place finish. Smith earned all-state honors with a fifth place finish in a time of 19:28.2. Garvey was also all-state with a 27th place finish in 20:07.7.
9. Greenville girls hoops wins league title
The Greenville Yellow Jackets girls basketball team completed one of its most successful seasons in school history in 2013.
The Yellow Jackets finished with 18 wins and won their first league title since 1990.
Greenville lost in the district finals to the Northview Wildcats, but had three players earn O-K Bronze postseason honors. Taylor Baker and Leah Somerfield were first team, while Kae Page was honorable mention.
Somerfield averaged 15.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game to lead the team. The all-state player just committed to Oakland University to play basketball.
In a tough O-K Bronze, the Yellow Jackets went 7-3 to finish ahead of Forest Hills Northern. Greenville lost just once at home all season long.
8. Belding wins another volleyball district title
Some things never get old.
In the case of the Belding Redskins volleyball team that means winning district titles.
With a win over Central Montcalm (3-0), the Redskins won its third consecutive district title and sixth title in the past seven seasons.
“I think every one (title) is different and special because there’s different kids involved,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said. “I never want it to become a habit for kids. They need to realize how important it is to win districts. Some kids never experience that.”
The Redskins season ended with a tough four game loss to Saginaw Swan Valley in the regional semifinals at Pinconning.
Belding finished with a 26-8-4 record.
7. Central Montcalm wins softball district title
The Central Montcalm Hornets softball team had a tremendous rebound season in 2013 on the diamond.
After winning just 12 games in 2012, first-year coach Bruce Nicholson led the Hornets to 22 wins, a second place finish in the CSAA, a district championship and a spot in the regional finals.
Behind Paige Switzer, the Hornets defeated Lakeview (3-2), White Cloud (6-3) and Morley Stanwood (6-5) in the district tournament. Switzer had 21 strikeouts and two wins in the tournament.
“It was awesome,” Nicholson said. “The girls set a goal to be district champs, so they got to do that. It was a good way to move forward with it, especially as young as they are.”
The regional tournament was held at Michigan State University.
Central Montcalm defeated Manistee 9-1 in the regional semifinals to advance to the finals to face CSAA rival Holton. In the finals, the Red Devils revenged two regular season losses by beating the Hornets 5-2 in the finals.
6. Three area football teams reach playoffs
The Carson City-Crystal Eagles, Belding Redskins and Lakeview Wildcats all reached the football playoffs in 2013.
For the Eagles it was their second trip in as many seasons. For the Redskins and Wildcats, it was their first trips since the 2007 and 2006 seasons.
CC-C had the best regular season with a perfect 9-0 record. They won seven the year prior and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
This year, the Eagles knocked off the Evart Wildcats in the first round, the same team that ended the Eagles season in 2012.
CC-C, though, could not get past Pewamo-Westphalia in the district finals to finish the season 10-1.
Lakeview had a seven win regular season with close losses to league rivals Newaygo and Reed City.
The Wildcats had to make a long trip to Maple City for the playoffs, but lost 21-14 to end the season 7-3 overall. Lakeview went 5-4 in 2012.
The Redskins had the biggest rebound in 2013.
After a 2-7 season in 2012, the Redskins went 6-3 this year. All three losses to were to playoff teams.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Redskins rallied late to win at Spring Lake. Belding lost in the district finals to undefeated O-K Blue rival Comstock Park.
Belding finished the season 7-4.
5. Belding girls track win first ever conference title
The awards just kept coming for the Belding girls track team in 2013.
Starting with the O-K Blue Conference season, the Redskins finished the regular season portion a perfect 6-0. That momentum carried over the conference meet at Coopersville to close out the regular season.
As the did in the regular season, the Redskins dominated the meet by scoring 154 points. Sparta was second with 93 points.
That night, the Redskins set school records in the pole vault, 1,600-meter run, 3,200 run and 3,200 relay. Belding sophomore led the way with four conference titles.
The Redskins were invited to the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association state meet and placed ninth.
“Our amazing season continued,” Belding coach John Carlson said. “We had a lot of girls turn in some great performances.”
Belding is expecting continued success in 2014 as they return all but two performers from their outstanding season in 2013.
4. CC-C girls basketball wins league, district titles
After winning 18 games, district and regional titles in 2012, the Carson City-Crystal Eagles girls basketball team knew the bar would be set high in 2013.
The Eagles raised that bar yet again.
CC-C went 20-3 while winning league and district titles again. The 20 wins were a school record. It was also the first time in school history they won back-to-back league and district titles.
The Eagles faced a tough non-conference schedule and went on to defeat four schools in Class B. A highlight win was over state ranked Saginaw Nouvel during the regular season.
CC-C season ended in the regional semifinal with a 37-35 loss to Grandville Calvin Christian.
The Eagles’ Mikayla Duflo went on to earn all-state honors.