What a year it’s been

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2017

After the New England Patriots mounted an incredible comeback to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime of Super Bowl 51 less than two weeks ago, sports fans across America — and even the world — began pointing out what a year it’s been.

Think about it. North Carolina lost the NCAA Championship to Villanova on Kris Jenkins’ last shot of the game. The NBA Championship saw the Cleveland Cavaliers rally from a 3-1 series deficit to win the game in the last minute. Two highlight-reel plays — Lebron James’ block and Kyrie Irving’s dagger of a 3-pointer — ended Cleveland’s storied championship drought.

In baseball, the Chicago Cubs rallied from being down 3-1 in the World Series to win Game 7 in extra innings and end a legendary dry spell of their own. Then, not long before the Super Bowl, another epic finish on the gridiron saw Clemson down juggernaut Alabama in the last second.

There were other incredible moments, games and series along the way. Just around the corner, East Carolina’s baseball team came about as close as possible to its first College World Series berth, and underdog Coastal Carolina eventually walked away with the NCAA crown.

It’s been the same at the local level. Even in a down year, Washington’s football team played in some epic games and almost salvaged what seemed like a lost season. Northside experienced a resurgence, while Southside came a play or two from punching its ticket to the state championship.

That’s only in football. Washington’s swim team repeated as state champion just a week ago. The Pam Pack soccer team, despite losing two of the program’s most prolific players, made another deep run into the playoffs. Right now, Terra Ceia’s basketball team is in the midst of an all-time great season.

There’s more to come. Washington’s softball team returns all but three players from the group that made it to the regional championship a year ago. The baseball team returns many, including its entire pitching staff. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding what Southside can do on the diamond.

So, Beaufort County, stay tuned. These last 365 days have been a wonderful ride for sports fans at all levels, and local athletes are determined to make it another enjoyable year.