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FIELDER’S CHOICES: A Top 10 worthy of a great year

I’ve been wearing my “I Voted” sticker around campus for the past couple weeks, but not for the mayoral election.
 
No, Eric and I recently voted on our top 10 stories of the year in Southern Nevada high school sports. (Don’t know why it wasn’t covered on CNN.)
 
It was a lot tougher than last year, with some good, some bad and some controversial stories to sift through. But it was always entertaining.
 
Thank you for sharing in the fun with me all year, and be sure to let me know where we goofed and what stories were unjustly left out.

1. The hovering specter of realignment

 
It looks like we’ll have only one more year of widespread competitive imbalance in Class 4A and only three teams in 3A.
 
The realignment committee is never going to please everybody, but I’ll take last week’s approval of the new-look proposal as good news.
 
Not perfect, but far better.

2. Madness at the Orleans

 
Like the Mavericks beating the Heat, this has multiple angles.
 
Canyon Springs deserves credit for earning the boys basketball state title, as the Pioneers were a worthy champion.
 
But it’s impossible to look at this without mentioning Bishop Gorman’s stunning loss in the semifinals to Bishop Manogue. For all their national rankings and Division I talent, the Gaels still couldn’t reach the state title game.
 
The tournament also will be remembered for Liberty giving Centennial a scare in the girls title game, Moapa Valley’s comeback in the 3A boys final, Agassi Prep making history in the 2A boys championship and Pahranagat Valley doing what Pahranagat Valley does.

3. The year of the Gael, again

 
Despite the boys basketball loss, Bishop Gorman still had a banner year with repeat state titles in football, baseball and girls swimming.
 
The dominance of the Gaels’ football program overshadowed a good story on the other side of town as Liberty emerged as a likely contender for years to come.

4. McCormick leads Panthers to promised land

 
Palo Verde had waited a long time for a state softball title, and Melissa McCormick did everything imaginable to lead the Panthers there.
 
The Panthers had only three seniors, so despite losing McCormick, it won’t exactly be a major rebuilding job next year.

5. Hartle runs into record book

 
For those who saw it, the 4A boys 1,600-meter run state final was as thrilling as it gets in high school track. It’s not bad when you have two runners break a 29-year-old record.
 
But Centennial’s Nick Hartle didn’t just set the 1,600 record in 4 minutes, 10.23 seconds. The junior also set a state meet record in the 800 in 1:49.91.

6. Jarman leads Bengals to history

 
Led by the area’s most physically imposing player, Price Jarman, Bonanza’s boys volleyball team went 23-0 on the way to its first state title.
 
The Bengals lose a massive senior class, but questions of a possible repeat can be saved for another day.

7. Underdogs rise in soccer

 
Legacy’s boys and Green Valley’s girls soccer teams both had chips on their shoulders to win it all. They did.
 
Both featured two of the best players Southern Nevada has seen in years: Legacy’s Saul Aguirre and Green Valley’s Kayla Varner.
 
Desert Pines also had a great run on the boys side.

8. Walker sets records

 
Has Dantley Walker’s No. 30 jersey been retired in Panaca yet? If not, I’ll drive up there to help them raise it to the rafters.
 
The Lincoln County point guard scored 60 points in a game — three times. He dropped a state record 73 on 2A state champion Agassi Prep.
 
Walker became the state’s all-time leader in points (3,304) and assists (887) before signing with UNLV.

9. Montgomery wins … everything

 
The focus of the boys golf season seemed to be on Coronado, but Foothill sophomore Taylor Montgomery won the individual state title, the Sunrise Region crown and the Southern Nevada Amateur.
 
He also led the Falcons to the state tournament, breaking Green Valley’s 19-year qualifying streak.

10. Blowout regulation

 
You knew I couldn’t leave this one off.
 
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association sent out a letter that said any basketball coach whose team wins by 50 points or more must submit an “explanation of safeguards that were implemented in that game which should have prevented the point differential.”
 
In other words, do what you can to keep the margin under 50, or else.
 
Winning by 49 was OK, but not by 51.

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