An up-and-down 2006-07 sports year at Harlem High School started and ended with two of the best girls teams the school has seen. The volleyball and girls soccer teams had seasons to remember.
In the fall sports season, the girls volleyball team, led by head coach Mike Hopkins, cruised through region competition and its regular season schedule with a 20-6 overall record. The Lady Bulldogs didn't lose a single match in Area 3N-AAA play and claimed a regular-season subarea championship.
The team also made school history by being its first volleyball team to ever reach the Class AAA state tournament.
Harlem's football team endured a rough fall after fumbles and mental mistakes helped the team lose four of its first five games. The Bulldogs rebounded late in the season, won their final two games and finished with a 4-6 record.
The fall sports season wasn't without its controversy. The softball team had a banner year with a regular-season subregion championship and appearance in the state section tournament. The season was marred, however, by the arrest of Harlem softball coach Melissa Chase on Nov. 13. She was charged with sexual assault against a student enrolled in school and was convicted June 28. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
The boys and girls basketball teams took over in the winter seasons with rumors of rebuilding years. The boys squad lost four of its five starters to graduation, but senior starter DeMarcus Morris wowed the Harlem crowd on a nightly basis with an average of 15 points per game.
On the girls' side, first-year coach Shari Colley began to build her program as sophomore Nicole Wells led the team with an average of 14 points per game.
The girls soccer team ruled the spring sports season. The Lady Bulldogs went deeper into postseason play than any other Columbia County girls soccer team.
Led by head coach George Berry, the girls reached the Class AAA state quarterfinals and finished the year with a 15-3 record.
The boys soccer team finished 10-5.
In baseball, the season couldn't have started better after the Bulldogs knocked off both Evans and Lakeside at home. Harlem went on to claim another Region 3N-AAA regular season championship and reached the state playoffs.
Sophomore Patrick Gamblin led the entire county in hitting, with a .488 batting average.
As the 2006-07 sports year ends and a new one begins, changes have already been made. Harlem High School safety officer and longtime travel ball coach Mike Leverett has been hired as the head coach of the girls softball team.
It's a sure sign that the Harlem athletic department has already taken steps to improve on the past.
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