By: Wells Dusenbury
With 2012 winding down, it's time to take a look back at the year that was in high school sports.
Best Game: Dwyer/American Heritage
-When schedules were announced over the summer, everyone had the Dwyer/American Heritage game circled on their calendar. This was the first meeting between two of the top programs in Palm Beach County and the game certainly lived up to its billing.
In front of a capacity crowd at American Heritage, the two teams fought in a back-and-forth contest, in which the Stallions held off a late Panthers rally to win what was dubbed "The Palm Beach County Championship.
Best atmosphere: Ft. Pierce Central/Vero Beach
-Despite having some of the top football talent in the county, the fan support in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast doesn't quite live up to the billing. The exception of course is at Vero Beach. Fighting Indians' fans routinely pack the Citrus Bowl and week five was no different.
Ft. Pierce Central and Vero Beach both entered their mid-season showdown unbeaten and when the teams hit the field, it had the buzz of a big-time college football game. Over 8,000 people were in attendance for the match-up between the Treasure Coast powers as they got to see a wire-to-wire finish in which Ft. Pierce Central held off Vero Beach for a thrilling 21-17 victory.
Most Shocking Moment: St. Thomas Aquinas sucker punch vs. St. Andrew's
Heading into the Boys Lacrosse Regional Finals, St. Thomas Aquinas had plenty of reason to feel optimistic about its chances vs. St. Andrew's. Two weeks earlier, Aquinas went to-to-toe with SA, falling 11-8 in an incredibly hard fought contest.
The Scots didn't let Aquinas hang around in round two though. In a dominant performance, St. Andrew's throttled Aquinas, taking a 15-5 lead late in the third quarter. That's when things got out of hand.
After being ejected from the game for throwing a punch, St. Thomas Aquinas defenseman Jake Champion was being ushered to the sideline when he decked St. Andrew's attackman Jordan Todd.
Todd remained on the ground for 20 seconds before getting up on his own power and finishing the game. Champion would end up being suspended by the FHSAA for six-weeks, although that punishment was moot considering he was a senior.
However, Champion was unable to live the incident down as the video of the punch went viral soon after.
Best finish: Omar Pierre-Louis
With Seminole Ridge trailing Park Vista 31-28 with 18 seconds to go in the 8A Regional Quarterfinals, things looked bleak for the Hawks.
Despite having put together one of their best offensive performances of the season, Ridge still needed to go 45 yards in 18 seconds to keep their season alive.
The Hawks did just that.
Ridge quarterback Zach DeCosta aired out a deep ball that bounced off a Park Vista defender and went right into the hands of Hawk wideout Omar-Pierre Louis for a 45-yard touchdown pass that won it for Ridge.
Biggest Surprise: Spanish River basketball makes it to States
After finishing the 2010-2011 season 8-16, no one really gave Spanish River at making the postseason the following season. The Sharks though rolled of nine straight wins to start the season and carried that moment into a postseason berth behind their talented senior group of Reggie Love, Evan Kupferberg, Dante Scholl and Coltin Gelb.
Following playoff wins against Jupiter and John I. Leonard, the Sharks needed to defeat Deerfield Beach in the Regional Finals to make States for the first time in school history. River was up to the challenge as they knocked off Deerfield 67 to 61 for their first ever trip to Lakeland.
While the Sharks saw their season come to a close against Hialeah Gardens in the State Semifinals, 2012 was a banner year for the Sharks.
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