January 2, 2013 5:02:01 AM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
Editor's Note: This is the fourth part of a look back at the year in sports in 2012. Today, we complete our look back with some of the top local sporting events played this past year.
While area fans flocked in December to prep basketball holiday tournaments, there was still an occasional question or reference back to "the game."
Already a month old, the Thanksgiving weekend Starkville High School-West Point High football game for the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship is standing the test of time as a classic.
"Years from now, everybody will talk about this game," Starkville senior quarterback Gabe Myles said. "I am just glad we came out on top."
Starkville beat West Point 29-28 in overtime at Yellow Jacket Field. The victory propelled Starkville to a victory one week later against Pascagoula in the Class 5A state championship.
West Point beat Starkville 47-22 in the regular season. However, the rematch didn't look the same, as the Green Wave saw a second-straight playoff run end with a loss to the Yellow Jackets.
"This hurts," West Point senior nose tackle Antonio Dent said. "You work the whole year to be in a position like this and to play a game like this. Then when it does not go your way, it leaves you empty inside. These were two really great teams. They just made one more play than we did."
West Point led 21-14 in the fourth quarter, only to have Starkville rally. The Green Wave got the overtime reprieve when a field goal attempt was blocked to end regulation time.
In the overtime, West Point grabbed a 28-21 lead on a 10-yard run by Aeris Williams. Starkville answered on a fourth-down, 15-yard touchdown pass from Myles to Kentrell Spencer. Myles called his number on the game-winning two-point conversion.
"We were going for two. There was no question," Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said. "As coaches, we talked about it before the overtime began. We wanted the ball last and we were going for two. I don't know how Gabe got in (on the two-point conversion). It was an incredible play. Those are the kinds of plays he has always made for us."
With the teams no longer in the same classification in 2013, the 2012 game will earn an even more special place in the legacy of both championship-rich programs.
TOP 10 LOCAL SPORTING EVENTS FOR 2012
No. 1 -- Prep Football: Starkville 29, West Point 28 (OT)
No. 2 -- Junior College Football: Copiah-Lincoln Community College 47, East Mississippi C.C. 46
The year's strangest finish took place in Scooba in the first round of the MACJC football playoffs. EMCC saw its state title defense halted with a first-round playoff loss to Co-Lin. Losing for the first time in their new stadium, the Lions lost on 90-yard kickoff return by Joe Craig with nine seconds left to play. EMCC had rescued the lead on a 75-yard drive, culminating with a 10-yard touchdown run from Quez Johnson.
No. 3 -- College Baseball: Mississippi State 4, LSU 3, 10 innings
While MSU's run to the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament title had several heart-stopping moments, the Bulldogs' biggest victory came against the Tigers. Trailing 3-0 in the eighth inning, MSU scored once in the eighth inning and twice in the ninth before Matthew Britton's RBI single in the 10th won it. MSU then defeated the University of Kentucky and Vanderbilt University to take the crown.
No. 4 -- Prep Soccer: Starkville boys 1, Pascagoula 0
Any state championship victory is sweet. For the Starkville High boys soccer program, that proved true when it beat Pascagoula for the school's first boys soccer state championship. Justin Gordon scored the game-winning goal late in the first half.
No. 5 -- Prep Basketball: Starkville Academy girls 34, Jackson Academy 30, OT
While this victory merely sent the Lady Volunteers into the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state championship game, it showed the mettle of coach Glenn Schmidt's squad. The Lady Volunteers rallied from down 26-14 with four minutes remaining. The theme would become common, as the squad showed a great knack from rallying e route to winning three championships.
No. 6 -- College Soccer: Mississippi State 3, Ole Miss 2, OT
While MSU soccer coach Neil Macdonald saw his time as the Bulldogs' coach end after the season, the veteran coach went out with a sweet victory. Playing perhaps their most complete match of the season, MSU built a 2-0 lead midway through the second half. Ole Miss rallied to force overtime, but Elisabeth Sullivan's 12th goal propelled MSU.
No. 7 -- Prep Football: Noxubee County 6, West Point 0
Noxubee County football coach Tyrone Shorter thought his Tigers had the makings of a Class 4A state champion. This non-region victory in the fifth week of the season solidified those hopes. The Tigers won the area's best regular season contest on a 43-yard touchdown run by Darrell Robinson in the second quarter. There was also a goal-line stand in the closing seconds as the Green Wave moved inside the Noxubee County 10-yard line.
No. 8 -- Men's College Basketball: Massachusetts 101, Mississippi State 96, 2OT
Coach Rick Stansbury's final game with the MSU basketball program in the opening round of the National Invitational Tournament didn't win any defensive awards, but it was exciting. Arnett Moultrie scored 34 points in 49 minutes in his final game in Starkville.
No. 9 -- College Softball: Mississippi State 3, Kentucky 2
MSU made sure Super Bulldog Weekend was super on the softball diamond. The walk-off victory completed a three-game weekend sweep of the nationally-ranked Wildcats. MSU secured a berth in the SEC tournament by winning three one-run games in the series, including two in walk-off fashion. MSU rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning in the victory.
No. 10 -- Prep Slow-Pitch Softball: Neshoba Central 15, New Hope 13
After a long night of softball, New Hope saw its slow-pitch season end in the Class 5A North State title series. The Lady Trojans trailed 12-2 in the sixth inning before scoring six times in that inning and five more times in the seventh. New Hope won the series opener 12-11 in eight innings but couldn't sustain the momentum.
-- Compiled by Scott Walters
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter