Looking back on the 2016 year in sports, there were plenty of great events to get local fans excited.
Here are just a few of The Newnan Times-Herald sports staff’s favorites.
Leading the way as the top story in Coweta County was the GISA volleyball finals, which resulted in a battle between local rivals Trinity and Heritage.
The championship match couldn’t have been any closer as it came down to a five-set thriller before the Lady Lions won 17-15 in the final game to capture their fifth title in six years.
Heritage won the first set 25-18 before Trinity set the stage for a 25-23 victory in the second set. The Lady Hawks captured game three 25-10 before Trinity won two sets in a row, winning the fourth game 25-21.
“Mission accomplished,” said Trinity coach Joe Herra after the match. “We wanted to get win No. 25, and we did it. That’s what you call the heart of a champion.”
Northgate boys soccer team made history: The Northgate boys soccer team’s trip to the Class AAAAA Finals also gave local sports fans plenty to cheer about as they came within one victory of winning their first-ever state title.
Northgate finished the season with a 19-2 record before falling to Riverwood in the finals at Mercer University in Macon.
The Vikings went into the championship on the heels of five straight shutouts.
Ironically, Riverwood and Northgate had faced off against each other in a scrimmage at the beginning of the season.
The playoffs served as a busy time for Northgate head coach Bryan Hicks, who coaches both the boys and girls teams.
In addition to his success with the boys’ squad, Hicks also led the Northgate girls to the Final Four where they finished with a 15-6 record.
May 10 turned into a challenging day for Hicks as he coached the boys team to a 3-0 victory at Allatoona earlier in the afternoon, and then was given a police escort to McIntosh High School in Peachtree City where the Lady Vikings fell to long-time rival McIntosh 4-0 to end the girls season.
“I am so proud of the guys. It’s rough to lose, but I am glad they got to experience this championship match,” Hicks said after the boys title game. “When they get older, they will realize how awesome this experience was for them.”
Central girls basketball team wins GICAA title: The Lady Crusaders dominated their opponents last season, finishing with a 22-1 record and capturing the GICAA title with a 50-42 victory over Westminster Christian.
The Lady Crusaders averaged more than 50 points per game, and after losing to Skipstone Academy midway through the season for their only loss of the year, Central rolled off 15 wins in a row.
CeCe Carter led the way for the Lady Crusaders averaging more than 20 points per game.
Carter, who is back for her senior year, has Central thinking about back-to-back titles as her team went into the holiday break with a 10-0 record.
Heritage and Trinity baseball teams advance to the GISA Final Four: The two private schools might be rivals, but they had something in common on the baseball diamond this spring, advancing to the GISA Class AAA Final Four.
Trinity opened the playoffs with a victory over Terrell Academy and Gatewood before falling to Valwood.
The Lions ended the season with a 15-4 record. Heritage finished 14-4.
Heritage beat Brookwood and John Milledge in their first two playoff series before ending their season against Deerfield-Windsor.
All three GHSA high schools get to the baseball playoffs: East Coweta and Newnan picked up first-round wins in the Class AAAAAA tournament, while Northgate advanced to the second round of the Class AAAAA tournament.
The Indians finished with a 22-8 record, beating Newton County in the first round before falling to Collins Hill. Newnan ended its season with a 20-10 record. The Cougars beat Tucker in the first round, but fell to Norcross in the second round to end their season.
First-year Northgate coach Todd Herrington led the Vikings’ baseball team to a 21-9 record. Northgate beat Harris County in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs but lost to Winder-Barrow in the second round.
Heritage girls basketball advances to GISA Final Four for third straight year: There are some things that are almost automatic when it comes to sports in Coweta County, like the Heritage girls basketball team advancing to the GISA Class AAA Final Four at Mercer in Macon.
The Lady Hawks have accomplished that feat three straight years.
In March, the Lady Hawks again found themselves just one of four teams still standing when teams arrived in Macon.
Unfortunately, the semifinals were the end of the line for the Lady Hawks after they dropped a 41-35 decision to Westwood. Heritage ended the season with a 22-4 record.
“The girls left it on the court. I am so proud of them,” head coach D.J. Clay said after the game.
Kara Groover scored 19 points to lead the Lady Hawks, and Olivia Ayers scored eight points.
In some of the other events that stirred interest among local sports fans:
The Heritage Hawks football team rolled to an undefeated 9-0 regular season and captured the GISA Region 1-AAA title. Heritage won its
first-round game 19-14 against Bulloch Academy before losing to Gatewood 33-14 in the second round. Just days after the end of the season, D.J. Clay announced he was stepping down as head coach, but would stay on as the girls basketball coach.
He turned the football duties over to defensive coordinator Jake Copeland, who will become a head coach for the first time.
In GHSA football, both East Coweta and Northgate advanced to the state playoffs.
The Vikings were trying to duplicate last year’s success of advancing to the Final Four, but only made it back to the Sweet 16 where their season ended with a 35-0 loss to eventual Class AAAAAA champion Valdosta.
East Coweta finished with an 8-3 record for the third year in a row after falling to Woodstock 35-34 in a heartbreaker.
At the end of the season, veteran head coach Steve Pardue announced his retirement.
The East Coweta softball team made it back to Columbus and the Class AAAAAAA Elite 8 in the fall, advancing all the way to the Final Four before bowing out with a 1-0 loss to Mill Creek. East Coweta finished the season with a 32-6 record.
Northgate and Newnan also advanced to the state softball tournament.
The Lady Vikings beat Chattahoochee in the first round, before ending their season with a loss to Heritage-Conyers in the Class AAAAAA Sweet 16. Northgate finished the season with a 20-15-1 record.
Newnan advanced to the Class AAAAAA softball tournament before losing to Lassiter in the first round and finished 15-15.