Another year has come and gone with no shortage of big moments in the Columbia County sports world. Before the page turns on another calendar year, let's look back on some of the top highlights from 2007.
1. Greenbrier baseball state title
A chance at back-to-back state championships looked slim after the Wolfpack team started off 2-4 under first-year coach Rodney Holder, but those four wins came against some of the top teams in the Southeast. Such tough competition paid big dividends. The Wolfpack didn't lose again all year. They swept Heritage in the state finals to claim the school's fifth state title in 11 years.
2. Evans beats Statesboro
The entire county was impressed with the Evans football team and their 6-0 start to the season, but the rest of the state still needed convincing. All those questions were answered and the critics were silenced when the Knights knocked off the undefeated Blue Devils on homecoming night in Evans 10-7. Jonathan Nicely's catch in the back of an end zone on a Kevin Millward throw in the fourth quarter sealed the win and proved the Knights were for real.
3. Evans/Greenbrier boys basketball rivalry
Two region games brought more excitement and drama than some teams see in an entire season. No one will forget Jonathan Nicely's 3-point prayer that was answered at the buzzer in an Evans win at Greenbrier. It took double overtime to determine a winner two weeks later at Evans. The Knights were victorious again.
4. Augusta Christian baseball state title
The Lions' dominance over SCISA continued in a big way on the baseball diamond. Augusta Christian nearly run-ruled Ben Lippen at Ben Lippen to claim the state title. They've never consistently been challenged by a SCISA team in baseball.
5. Evans football state playoff win
Forget about the Lakeside football scandal. Forget about Greenbrier's football problems. Forget that Lee County was 2-8. None of that mattered when the entire county came together on Nov. 16 to see one of their own teams win a state playoff game for the first time since 2000.
6. Evans softball win over Greenbrier
For a solid decade the pecking order in Columbia County softball has been Greenbrier, then everyone else. Finally, after years of winning, the Lady Wolfpack fell at the hands of Evans in an extra-inning nail-biter. Greenbrier went on to knock of Evans in the region and state sectional tournaments, but it didn't take away that priceless photo of the Evans girls celebrating in front of the Greenbrier logo.
7. Lakeside golf state title
Windy and cold conditions at Bartram Trail on May 7 made a subpar round of golf nearly impossible in the Class AAAA golf state championship tournament. Even Lakeside sophomore Brian Carter was headed for an over-par round until he hit the final hole. Carter was 40 yards from the cup, but chipped in for eagle to earn the title of low medalist and help ensure a second-straight Class AAAA golf state championship.
8. Two Greenbrier comebacks
The Wolfpack made a habit of falling behind early and playing catch up in the 2007 football season. A perfect example of that came when Greenbrier trailed Richmond Academy on the road 24-7 in the fourth quarter. Thanks to receiver Andy Gray's miraculous catch late in the game and a Nick Richards touchdown-dive with only seconds left, the Wolfpack pulled off the win. Greenbrier did it again later in the year against Brunswick -- a win that allowed Evans to play at home in the first round of the state playoffs.
9. Augusta Prep rules the net
The Lady Cavaliers volleyball team didn't meet a GISA team they couldn't beat in 2007. Augusta Prep's only three losses came at the hands of state playoff-bound public schools, and the Lady Cavaliers went on to claim a second straight GISA Class AAA state championship in their home gym.
10. A new champ at a new course
Columbia County got a brand new, completely official cross-country course in 2007. They also got a brand new cross-country champion. Freshman Anna Bowles lost her first race at the park to Greenbrier senior Chelsea Maxwell, but never lost there again. Bowles won the Columbia County Invitational and the region championship. The freshman currently holds the girls course record at Blanchard Woods Park with a time of 20:19.
That's the top 10 list. Need more? Check out some of the other top five lists from 2007. They cover the good, the bad and the otherwise unbelievable moments of the Columbia County sports year.
1. Evans over Statesboro in football
2. Evans over Greenbrier in softball
3. Harlem baseball beat Evans and Lakeside in same week
4. Greenbrier over Brunswick in football
5. Harlem over Glenn Hills in football
1. Lakeside's football scandal
2. Greenbrier's football scandal
3. Heat shuts down football/softball practices in August
4. Salonick Amos suspended after he's caught with aspirin
5. No boys basketball teams reach Class AAAA state playoffs
Most dominant teams
1. Greenbrier baseball
2. Dixie Youth "O" Zone Team
3. Augusta Christian baseball
4. Greenbrier girls basketball
5. Augusta Prep volleyball
5. Lakeside tennis
Top new developments
1. Region Realignment
2. School board adds $85,000 to help improve athletic departments
3. Blanchard Woods Park opens
4. ACS Field House completed
5. Augusta Prep adds football
Top Individual efforts
1. Damien Lucree hit .700 in the state playoffs
2. Jim Hull scored 43 points vs. Tattnall Square
3. Bobby Zimmerman's run in state playoffs with cracked rib
4. Williams Banks led a touchdown drive in a loss to Hammond
5. Michelle Swiec scored her 1,500th career point.
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