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Best of 2014: Top ten local sports stories

As the clock runs out on 2014, and a brand-new year begins, step back in time with short recaps of the “top ten” sports stories that captivated us in Colleton County:

Honorable mentions: Cougar Football returns to the airwaves with “Voice of the Cougars” Greg Pryor and “Coach” Joey Ritter; Thad Wells named Colleton Prep Head Football Coach; CCHS names Ark and Fagan to lead basketball program, Jay Davis building CCMS Athletic Program; and Chris Collins named Athletic Director for Colleton County High School.

rustyadams10. Lady Cougar Softball Coach Rusty Adams Retires; honored for 33 years of commitment- Retired Softball Coach Rusty Adams to be Honored – After announcing his retirement in November of 2013, former CCHS Varsity Softball Coach Rusty Adams will be honored for his 33 years of coaching the game he loves… and knows better than most on Saturday, April 5th. Coach Adams amassed an unparalleled 550 wins, 16 region titles, and was the facilitator to help at least 50 female athletes further their collegiate careers. Most would agree that Rusty Adams single-handedly put softball on the map for the Lowcountry and quite likely fueled competition state-wide. Even in his retirement, he is still found giving lessons or advice on any given day; and don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

hendren9. USC Salkehatchie Indian Basketball names Hendren Coach-The USC Salkehatchie Indians have a new chief on the sidelines hoping to lead them back to another national tournament. Corey Hendren has been named as the head coach for the men’s basketball program at USC Salkehatchie. Hendren, who at age 22 is likely the youngest collegiate head coach around, is himself no stranger to the court. At 6’5″, he helped lead his high school team, the Lexington Wildcats out of Columbia, SC, to a Lower State Championship in 2010 as a senior. He then went on to attend Milligan College, in Northeast Tennessee, where he graduated cum laude in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Business with a sports management emphasis. Hendren stated he is excited about the opportunity to build on the great foundation already in place at USC Salkehatchie. “We have a great deal of excitement surrounding our program, so we want to build off this excitement by having energy and enthusiasm in everything we do,” stated Hendren. His goals for the Indians include: competing at a national level, graduating players, and helping his recruits continue their education and playing careers at a four-year institution.

cougarbaseball8. Colleton County Cougar Baseball nabs playoff berth as the four seed- The Cougars’ hard work, teamed with Percy Knight’s determination to build a consistent program, met with success as the Cougars’ snagged the four seed in the Lower State District VII playoffs. They will face the number one seed, West Ashley, who is ranked as one of the top programs in the state. There is a silver lining to this picture in that the Cougars have faced West Ashley twice already this season: once in a lopsided West Ashley victory and the other in a much more interesting game, where the outcome was just short of an upset by the Cougars. In fact, there have been several region games in which the CCHS Cougars were on the brink of pulling off an upset. Earning two out of three region wins for the Cougars was sophomore hurler Andrew Jones. According to Coach Knight, he has a whole lot of the right stuff. He can hit the corners, mix up speeds, throw a heavy curve, work down on good hitters, move the ball around, get ground balls for outs and throw strikes.

ladycougars 7. CCHS Lady Cougar Varsity Softball Earns Play-Off Spot – The Lady Cougars cinched the final spot in the Region VIII, AAAA softball playoffs with their 3-0 shutout against Ashley Ridge. Junior, Canyon Crosby kept Ashley Ridge off the scoreboard for all seven innings of work in the circle. She pitched a shutout, allowing no runners to cross the plate on two hits, and two strikeouts. Victoria Brewington had two extra base hits to help the Colleton County Lady Cougars to the victory, going 3-4 on the night. “Canyon Crosby pitched one of her best games and we finally finished a game on a strong note,” said Amber Gantt, Lady Cougar Coach. When asked about making playoffs for the first time in six years, Coach Gantt said, “I’m excited. I’m so happy for these girls to have the opportunity to experience the intensity of a playoff game.”

6. CPA earns back-to-back State Championships in SCISA Class A Softball– Coach Mallory Crawford led the Colleton Prep Lady Warhawk Softball team to their second state championship in an 11-1 victory over Clarendon Hall in the SCISA Class A State Championship. Truth be told, there was little doubt about the outcome of this game from the start as Clarendon Hall was clearly outmatched. Senior, Laura Reynolds was in the circle for Colleton Prep and left little opening for doubt. Seniors, Madeline Hill, Kenneddy Crosby, Devin Adams, Jaime Mclaine, and Laura Reynolds have provided the CPA softball faithful with many years of wonderful moments, exciting ballgames, and memories that will last for a very long time.

acebasin5. Ace Basin Sports Complex- The Ace Basin Sports Complex continued to grow, both in economic impact and in size, during its first full year of being in use. Holding travel tournaments throughout the year and playing host to Dixie Youth All-Star Tournaments is quickly putting the Ace Basin Sports Complex on the map as one of the best facilities around. Additionally, 13.9 acres of land located across from Colleton County Middle School, including a baseball field and practice field, was purchased this fall from the Colleton County School District. Plans to improve an existing path are in progress, and the recently voted 1-cent sales tax referendum will add improvements to the Colleton County Recreation Center.

dixieangels4. Colleton County Dixie Angel All-Stars advance to semi-finals in Dixie State Tournament– After going 4-0 in district competition, the Colleton County Dixie Angels All-Star team headed to state competition in Dillon, South Carolina. In order to prepare, Coach Tiger Martin says he will ready his team to do what they do best: throw strikes, play smart defense, and hit the ball hard. “Our practices won’t differ much from those leading up to District as the girls seem to be continually improving, so we will stick to it,” reported Martin. The Colleton County Dixie Angels easily defeated Chester, 12-2, in game one of the Dixie State Tourney. In game two, against Latta, it was a pitcher’s duel through two innings with the scoreboard holding nothing but zeros. However, the top of the third saw Latta go ahead by six runs, in a series of walks and base hits that led Colleton County to burn through four pitching changes. The Angel’s bats came alive and they scrapped their way to a near comeback, with the final score 10-6. The Angels went on to get the win against Dillon, 4-1, placing them in the semi-final game.

cpagirlsbasketball3. CPA Lady Hawks go 24-0 and win SCISA Class A Basketball Championship- With seven seniors who have played together since middle school, Colleton Prep cinched the SCISA Class A Basketball Championship on March 1, 2014, against James Island Christian, 52-40, in the Sumter Civic Center. Going into the championship game with an undefeated record, 23-0, those same veteran players captured CPA’s first title since 1995. Senior, Madeline Hill led the Warhawks with 16 points, and Shelly McDonald and Region Player of the Year, Laura Reynolds, added 10 points each to pace CPA. The Lady Hawks were coached by Barry Morehead.

cpabaseball2. CPA Baseball wins SCISA Class A State Championship– The War Hawks, coached by Nat Stoner, earned a SCISA Class A Baseball Championship over W.W. King, 5-0, in Game 3 of the championship series in Allendale. There were a lot of great plays by a lot of War Hawks. However, it was a total team effort, as well it should be, that led to the Hawk’s victory, ensuing dog pile, and police escort back home with the championship trophy. Christopher Reeves, a freshman, did five innings of work, allowing no runs and only two hits. Junior Will Carter started the fifth, and finished the job.

cougars1. Colleton County Football – The Cougars go 5-7 on season and earn playoff spot- For the first time since 2007, the Colleton County Cougars will be heading into post-season play. The Cougars, seeded 13th in the Class AAAA Division II Football bracket, will take on the #4 seed Westwood Redhawks in Blythewood, S.C. “I am very glad we could achieve our seniors’ goal of making the playoffs,” said Head Coach Chris Collins. The Cougars would go on to lose in round one and end their season 5-7 overall. “Westwood is a very good team that eventually wore us down,” said Cougar Head Coach Chris Collins. “I’m very proud of our team. They played with heart and had to overcome a lot of adversity this season due to major injuries to several of our players. This year’s seniors can take pride in helping turn the program around. We had a winning record at home, won our first region game since 2009, had the best record of any Colleton football team since 2007, and made the playoffs for the first time since 2007.”

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