COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI Sports) - Northeast Mississippi and west Alabama were blessed with some terrific moments in sports in 2013. From high school teams taking home basketball, baseball and football championships to the Mississippi State baseball team’s record-breaking run to the College World Series finals, there was a lot to cheer for in the last 12 months. WCBI’s Sports Director Robby Donoho has made his list of the top ten moments of the year (and he’s checked it twice).
10) High school basketball championships
Biggersville won its first title since 1996 as Dandy Dozen star Daniel Simmons leads the Lions to a championship. The Baldwyn Bearcats took home the gold ball for the first time in over a quarter century, finishing with a 32-3 record.
9) French Camp’s football state title
French Camp Academy made it to Jackson to face another area 1A team in Smithville. The FCA Panthers lost their first four games but responded by winning 11 of their last 12 including the state championship. It was French Camp’s first ever football title.
8) Starkville Academy girls basketball streak
The Starkville Academy Lady Vols basketball team went on an unprecedented run in the 2012-2013 hoops season, as Glenn Schmidt’s squad did not have one blemish on their record: 43 victories and 0 losses. The Lady Vols were division, class, and overall state champions for the second year in a row in 2013, entering this season holding a 52-game winning streak, one of the longest winning streaks ever recorded in Mississippi high school sports history.
7) The Louisville football team’s eighth championship
Nothing stood in the way of the Louisville Wildcats football team during the 2013 season as M.C. Miller and the ‘Cats were undaunted in their journey to Jackson. After winning each of their first 15 by double digits, the Wildcats tallied State Championship number eight in their already crowded trophy case, which now puts them all alone in second place for the most MHSAA football state titles.
6) The Ole Miss football team’s season
From the crazy finish at Vanderbilt to start the season to the game-winning kick against LSU, Rebel Nation wasn’t without a few hard-pounding, down-to-the-wire victories from this year. With a 7-4 record heading into its bowl game against Georgia Tech, Ole Miss will head into next season with plenty of young talent.
5) The Egg Bowl
One of those wild endings ended up not going in favor of the Rebels. The 2013 Egg Bowl had everything you were wanted for a Thanksgiving dessert, except the points. The 110th meeting between Mississippi State and Ole Miss was a defensive slugfest, but it was also a heroic comeback for the leader of the Dawgs, Dak Prescott. He surprised everyone with his return to the field late in the game, leading the Bulldogs on the comeback into overtime that saw the Golden Egg return to Starkville.
4) The Ole Miss basketball team’s run
Marshall Henderson made a name for himself quite early on during the 2013 college basketball season. Controversial? Yes. Polarizing? You betcha. Talented? No question. The man that never met a shot he didn’t like was the driving force behind the Rebel resurgence on the hardwood. But Andy Kennedy and Ole Miss needed some help going into the SEC Tournament. The Rebels were still on the outside looking in with many NCAA bracketologists. Marshall and company didn’t worry one bit. Ole Miss won its first SEC Tournament title since 1981 and in the process earned their first NCAA Tournament birth in 11 years. They invaded March Madness and brought home the school’s first Tourney win since 2001 with an upset victory over No. 5 seed Wisconsin.
3) The Iron Bowl
Never had there been an Iron Bowl with more on the line. No. 1 Alabama saw No. 4 Auburn with the winner heading to Atlanta with a shot at the National Championship. And the game lived up to the hype, bringing us one of the most dramatic and most improbable finishes college football has seen in recent memory.
2) EMCC’s second football national title in three years
Dynasty isn’t a word thrown around too often, but claiming a second national championship in three years begins that discussion. Sure enough, in the beginning of December down in Biloxi at the 2013 NJCAA National Championship, EMCC put the criticism to rest with an exceptional performance on both offense and defense. The Lions held up the national championship trophy after defeating then #1 Georgia Military at the Mississippi Bowl.
1) The MSU baseball team’s journey to the CWS finals
After the SEC Tournament championship from 2012, the bar had been raised for the Mississippi State baseball team. 2013 saw one of the loosest, craziest, and most talented Bulldog baseball teams to come across Starkville since the days of Will the Thrill and Rafael Palmeiro. The ride that John Cohen and the Diamond Dawgs took the Bulldog faithful on was nothing short of brilliant. It started at home in the NCAA Regional round defeating Central Arkansas on the last day to advance. Then, it was to Charlottesville, Va. where the Bulldogs unleashed, and for the first time since 2007, Omaha beckoned; the Bulldogs were back at the College World Series. Thousands, upon thousands of Bulldog supporters made the ten-plus hour trek from Mississippi to see one of the most cold-blooded teams college baseball has ever seen. And with that win, Mississippi State played for their first team national championship, in any sport, in its 135 year history. New ground was broken in Bulldog Athletics for 2013, and the talent returning for 2014 gives reason to believe that Bulldog fans will have to adjust their summer travel plans for a vacation to Omaha in June once again.