Since the high school sports season has reached a temporary lull due to the holiday break, this is as good a time as any to take one final look back at the 2012 calendar year for our local athletic teams.
It was quite a ride.
Favorite game: The final score was 53-33 but don't let the 20-point margin of victory fool you. My favorite game of 2012 occurred in mid-January, and it was actually an impromptu contest.
Due to a snowstorm, the originally scheduled Illinois Special Olympics basketball game between St. Charles Community Unit District 303 and Naperville District 203 was postponed.
But a game still took place, as St. Charles East's boys basketball team stepped in to face their St. Charles Special Olympian friends before a good-sized crowd in the main gym.
The Saints' varsity squad suffered a 20-point loss but there were only winners involved on this night.
Best finish: It happened just last week, as St. Charles East junior guard Dom Adduci stole the inbound pass near midcourt, took a dribble and launched a desperation half-court heave that caromed off the backboard and fell through the net as time expired, giving the Saints a 64-61 victory over Glenbard East on Dec. 28 at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
The drive: Kaneland junior quarterback Drew David marched his team 67 yards in 6 plays and tossed a 5-yard TD pass to Zack Martinelli with 27 seconds remaining to lift the Knights to a 33-30 Northern Illinois Big 12 East victory over Morris in a battle between 8-0 squads in late-October. The win sealed Kaneland's third consecutive conference crown and extended its regular season winning streak to 28.
State champs: Marmion's Johnny Jimenez and Angelo Silvestro captured individual titles at 113 and 138 pounds, respectively, during the Class 2A state wrestling tournament last February in Champaign.
In November, Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton earned an individual title with a 3-mile time of 16:56 at the Class 2A girls state cross country meet held at Peoria's Detweiller Park.
The month also produced a repeat state champion, as coach Don Beebe's Aurora Christian football team outscored Tolono Unity 28-0 in the second half to pull away for a 42-14 Class 3A championship triumph at Champaign's Memorial Stadium. Seniors Brandon Mayes and Joel Bouagnon scored 2 TDs each as the Eagles capped an amazing 13-1 campaign.
Second best: Last June, St. Charles North's girls soccer team advanced to the Class 3A state championship game before losing a 1-0 decision to Naperville North. Coached by Ruth Vostal, the North Stars made their second Final 4 appearance in 3 years and captured their ninth straight regional crown.
One month earlier, West Aurora sophomore Emma Spagnola placed second in the 100-meter hurdles (14.26) at the Class 3A girls state track and field meet in Charleston, while Marmion's Pete Stefanski took second in the high jump (6-10) a week later at the Class 3A boys state track meet.
Geneva's Peter Archibald (1:52.60) and St. Charles East's Jake Mazanke (1:54.25) went 2-3 in the 800.
Playoff-bound: In October, Aurora Central Catholic punched its first football playoff berth since 1997 with a 55-0 romp over Guerin. Coach Brian Casey's Chargers finished 6-4. Led by senior linebacker/fullback Joe Hoscheit, St. Charles East (6-4) earned a Class 7A postseason bid for the first time since 2009. Batavia completed its second straight 9-0 regular season and Upstate Eight Conference River title before suffering a 38-26 first-round upset loss to Downers Grove North.
Notable feats: In February, Marmion junior George Fisher placed second at 126 pounds during the 2A state wrestling tournament, while West Aurora's Greg Jacquez extended the Blackhawks' streak of state place-winners to 11 years in a row with his third-place showing at 138 in the 3A state tourney. Three-time state qualifier Tim Noverini of St. Charles North took fifth at 152 pounds.
In March, Aurora Central Catholic's girls basketball team placed fourth in the Class 2A state tournament after pocketing its first sectional title with a 64-52 win over St. Francis de Sales. Coach Mark Fitzgerald's team finished 25-8.
Kaneland earned its first regional crown since 2005 with a 37-34 win over Yorkville in Class 3A action, while Geneva captured its fourth consecutive Class 4A regional title with a 55-45 victory over Elk Grove.
On the boys' side, West Aurora earned its first sectional title since 2006 with a 69-61 win over Metea Valley. It was the Blackhawks' 11th sectional championship under the direction of longtime coach Gordie Kerkman.
Kaneland claimed its first regional title since 1999 with a 65-61 victory over Rochelle in Class 3A play, while Aurora Central Catholic and St. Francis both advanced to the 3A sectional finals.
In May, St. Charles East's boys tennis team earned its first sectional title since 1993, led by a 1-2 singles finish from Jasper Koenen and Justin Bowman at Lake Park.
Geneva senior Ben Rogers placed fourth (46-9) and sixth (22-10) in the triple jump and long jump, respectively, at the Class 3A boys state track and field meet, while St. Charles North's Oshay Hodges (6-8) was sixth in the high jump.
St. Charles East's baseball team won its third straight Class 4A regional title with a 5-3 victory over Glenbard East, while Marmion earned its third straight 3A regional diamond title with a 4-1 win over DeKalb.
In October, individual medalist Raghav Cherala fired a 73 to lead St. Charles North's boys golf team to the Class 3A regional title -- the school's first regional crown since 2002.
On the girls' side, St. Charles East senior Paige Jordan earned regional medalist honors with an 82 at the Golf Club of Illinois. Jordan went on to finish 23rd (80) at the rain-shortened state tournament while St. Charles North senior Ariana Furrie was 16th (79).
St. Charles East's boys soccer team enjoyed resurgence in 2012, highlighted by its first sectional title in 11 years with an 8-1 romp over Larkin. Led by TC Hull, the Saints were dominant during their postseason run, outscoring their first 4 opponents, 22-3.
In November, Geneva's girls volleyball team claimed its first Class 4A regional title since 2009 with a 3-set victory over Batavia, while St. Charles East earned its seventh consecutive regional crown and St. Charles North captured back-to-back regional championships. The Vikings eliminated St. Charles East in the sectional semifinals before dropping a 3-set title decision to Glenbard West.
No turkey here: Led by Most Valuable Player Kendall Stephens (97 points in 4 games), St. Charles East's basketball team captured its own Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament for the first time since 1994 with a 61-42 victory over St. Charles North.
Strong finishes: Batavia (3rd at Elgin), West Aurora and St. Charles North (2nd and 5th at Pontiac), St. Charles East (top 10 at Proviso West), and Geneva (2-2 at East Aurora) all fared well at their respective basketball tournaments last week.
Happy 2013! Thanks for reading.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.org.