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SPORTS STORIES OF THE YEAR: A look at Gwinnett's top headlines

USA's Maya Moore celebrates after the team' win in a quarterfinal women's basketball game against Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in London.

USA's Maya Moore celebrates after the team' win in a quarterfinal women's basketball game against Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in London.

» Gwinnett shines in London Olympics

The world got to see the greatness of some of Gwinnett County’s athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games. The county had seven Olympians with Gwinnett ties in the London Olympics.

The group was led by gold medal winners Maya Moore (Collins Hill grad) in women’s basketball and Parkview grad Eric Shanteau in swimming’s 400-meter medley relay. Brookwood grad Amanda Weir won the bronze in the swimming 400-meter freestyle relay.

Gwinnett County’s other Olympic participants were North Gwinnett’s Kibwe Johnson in the hammer throw and Grayson teacher Chaunte Lowe in the high jump.

Norcross’ Al-Farouq Aminu (basketball) and Jangy Addy (decathlon) represented their native countries of Nigeria and Liberia, respectively.

RELATED LINKS:

Maya Moore, U.S. women cruise to Olympic gold

North's Johnson finishes ninth in hammer finals

Relay delivers to give Shanteau an Olympic gold

Weir earns third career Olympic medal

France edges Nigeria, Aminu in men's hoops


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Ryan Daniel, Adam Smith and Devin Durden

» Buford hit with tragedies

Buford High School was hit with tragedy this year when it lost a teacher, student and a Buford grad.

Beloved football coach Ryan Daniel, a 2000 Buford grad, died of a heart attack in January while playing a pick-up basketball game at the school’s gym.

Adam Smith, a 16-year-old junior at Buford, died after collapsing during a pre-season basketball workout in September.

A month later, Devin Durden died when his motorcycle was hit by a driver on Ga. Hwy. 20 and Gravel Springs Road near the Mall of Georgia. The 21-year-old Durden was a 2009 Buford grad and the son of Buford girls basketball head coach Gene Durden. He was a member of Buford’s 2007 and 2008 state championship football teams.

RELATED LINKS:

Teacher/coach to be remembered as "favorite son of Buford"

Buford student remembered as ‘best friend to all’

Buford's Durden remembered for engaging personality


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Hawks guard Louis Williams (3) goes to the basket between Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) and forward Rudy Gay (22) in a game this season.

» Williams returns to Atlanta, Lamb drafted by Rockets

In the early 2000s, Lou Williams was one of the most popular basketball players in Georgia as he played for South Gwinnett High School. The 2005 Comet grad returned to Atlanta this summer when he was signed by the Atlanta Hawks after a seven-year career with the Philadelphia 76ers. In his final year with the 76ers, Williams led the team in scoring with 14.9 points a game despite not starting a single game.

This season with the Hawks, he’s third on the team in scoring with 14.5 points a game.

Norcross’ Jeremy Lamb was selected with the 12th overall pick in the NBA draft by the Houston Rockets and was later traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Lamb was a star at the University of Connecticut, leading the Huskies to the 2011 national championship.

RELATED LINKS:

South grad Williams to join Hawks

Norcross' Lamb drafted 12th overall by Rockets

Norcross grad Lamb traded before NBA season starts


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Grayson running back and defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is the nations top recruit.

» Nation’s top football recruit commits, decommits

Grayson defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche was tabbed as the nation’s No. 1 college football prospect by recruiting services this summer. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Nkemdiche has scholarship offers from every major program in the country and shocked the college football recruiting world when he committed to Clemson in June.

Nkemdiche made the decision while visiting the South Carolina school and did not hold a formal press conference. The commitment stood until November when he de-committed.

Nkemdiche, whose brother Denzel plays linebacker for Ole Miss, has not made a college decision known to the public. He has until Feb. 6 on National Signing Day to make a choice.

RELATED LINKS:

Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche, nation's No. 1 prospect, commits to Clemson

Grayson's Nkemdiche decommits from Clemson


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Dave Brundage

» Brundage leaves G-Braves

For the first time here, there was a change at the top for the Gwinnett Braves.

After leading the Class AAA Braves relocation from Richmond to Gwinnett and managing the team in its first four seasons, Dave Brundage jumped inter-division to lead the Lehigh Valley IronPigs early in this offseason. The Braves replaced Brundage with Randy Ready from the Texas Rangers organization.

Most recently, Ready acted as the minor league hitting coordinator for the American League team and prior to that he spent three seasons coaching hitters with the San Diego Padres. He managed in the Portland organization for six seasons, putting together a .512 winning percentage and earning the 2008 best manager prospect.

In his four years with the G-Braves, Brundage led the team to a wild card playoff appearance in 2009 and an overall record of 293-281 (.510). He will still live in Gwinnett during the offseason after moving his family here from the West Coast when the team moved.

RELATED LINKS:

G-Braves manager Brundage leaving team

G-Braves fill managerial void


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Georgia Force line backer Matt Marcorelle (11) celebrates after sprinting his fumble recovery in for a touchdown against the Cleveland Gladiators during the home opener of arena football action at the Arena At Gwinnett Center in 2012.

» Georgia Force folds

The Arena Football League’s Georgia Force folded in September after the 2012 season.

The AFL went on a two-year hiatus from 2009-10 and returned in 2011. The fan base was never the same for the Force, who played their home games at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The Force went 9-9 in their last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs.

“The market never responded to our extensive marketing and sales campaign,” team president Corey Remillard told OurSportsCentral.com. “With all of the outreach, marketing, community and public relations that we put forward, it would have been impossible to not know that we were playing here, and the city simply did not respond. Atlanta is simply not a football town.”


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Brian Montgomery

» Shiloh football coach resigns

Shiloh football head coach Brian Montgomery resigned in April after allegations of recruiting players, a Georgia High School Association violation.

In his only season as Shiloh’s head coach, Montgomery led the Generals to a 2-8 record. Montgomery came under scrutiny in April after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a first-person story by backup quarterback Will Larimore, who transferred from North Atlanta after Montgomery, who had been North Atlanta’s coach, was hired at Shiloh.

The investigation prompted Gwinnett County Public Schools not to renew Montgomery’s contract and he resigned in April.

In June, the GHSA notified Shiloh that it would have to vacate all wins from the 2011 season for using ineligible players.

Former North Gwinnett assistant Troy Hobbs was hired as Shiloh’s new head coach in May.

RELATED LINKS:

Football coach investigated for alleged recruiting violations

District will not renew football coach's contract

Shiloh football to forfeit wins from last season

North assistant accepts head football job at Shiloh


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Collins Hill grad Taylor Heinicke put up huge numbers for the Old Dominion football team.

» Heinicke sets NCAA passing record

Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke had the most prolific season passing in Gwinnett County history and he’s continued that at the college level.

The 2011 Collins Hill grad set the NCAA Division I record for passing yards in a game with 730 and total offense with 791 yards in ODU’s 64-61 victory over New Hampshire. He threw 79 passes in the game without an interception.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore also broke Alcorn State’s Steve McNair’s single-season passing record by throwing for 5,076 yards and had 5,546 yards of total offense.

Heinicke threw for 4,218 yards and 44 touchdowns as a senior, leading Collins Hill to the state semifinals and earning Daily Post Player of the Year honors.

RELATED LINKS:

Heinicke throws for 730 yards in comeback

Collins Hill grad Heinicke breaks passing records

Collins Hill grad Heinicke wins Walter Payton Award


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Atlanta Falcons' Jonathan Massaquoi, a Central Gwinnett grad, defends Reggie Walker on a Cardinals punt during a game this season at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

» Atlanta teams draft Gwinnett grads

Central Gwinnett’s Jonathan Massaquoi and Brookwood’s Lucas Sims grew up watching Atlanta sports teams. Now they get to play for them.

Massaquoi was drafted in the fifth round by the Falcons out of Troy University where he recored 19.5 sacks over two years. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive end has played sparingly for the Falcons, who won the NFC South division title.

Sims was taken in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft in June. The right-hander was selected 21st overall and is playing in the class rookie Appalachian League and Gulf Coast League. Sims was drafted just a few weeks after leading Brookwood to the Class AAAAA state runner-up.

RELATED LINKS:

Falcons draft Central's Massaquoi

Braves sign first-round pick Sims of Brookwood


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The Parkview baseball team celebrates its Class AAAAA state championship after defeating Brookwood.

» Parkview baseball wins national title

Parkview was the top baseball team in Georgia this season and Baseball America felt they were the best in the country.

The Panthers, who won the Class AAAAA state championship for the second year in a row, were named No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America magazine.

They are the second Georgia team to win a baseball national title, joining Lassiter’s 1999 title team.

RELATED LINKS:

Parkview named national champions by Baseball America

Olson leads Panthers' charge to second straight title with sweep of Brookwood


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Norcross' Tommy Tate (51), Shon Akins (3), Joseph Wilber (7) and Alvin Kamara (6) hoist the state championship trophy after defeating Lovejoy 21-14 during the Class AAAAAA state championship game at the Georgia Dome.

» High school football season ends with pair of title

Defending state champion Grayson began the year ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Rams were upset by Parkview in the Region 8-AAAAAA opener, but rallied to claim the region crown.

The high school football season ended with Norcross and Buford winning state championships.

Norcross claimed the Class AAAAAA state title with a 21-14 victory over Lovejoy. It was the first state title in the program’s 56-year history.

Buford won the Class AAA championships with a 10-3 win over St. Pius. It was the fifth title in six years for the Wolves and eighth in the last 12 years.

RELATED LINKS:

Buford earns AAA title with 10-3 win over St. Pius X

Two big plays spark comeback, Norcross' first state title


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Gwinnett Gladiator Jeff Jakaitis was named the ECHL goaltender of the year

» Gladiators’ Jakaitis gets top award

Gwinnett Gladiator Jeff Jakaitis was named the ECHL goaltender of the year, despite playing just half the season due to a knee injury.

The Minnesota native led the ECHL with five shutouts — also a new Gwinnett record — and shared the league lead with a .930 save percentage. His 2.03 goal-against average was second in the ECHL. He tied a league mark with three consecutive shutouts and his streak of 215 minutes and 31 seconds was just a period short of the all-time record.

Jakaitis had his ACL and MCL severely damaged during a game against Greenville on Feb. 4 and spent 10 months rehabilitating it. He played his first game since the injury on Dec. 14 — for the Gladiators’ division rival, the South Carolina Stingrays.

RELATED LINK:

Gladiators Jakaitis named ECHL goalie of year


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Wesleyan players Kendra Talley (22), left, Brittany Stevens (5), being hugged by Missy Byrd (34) and Holli Wilkins (32) right, celebrate the Class A state basketball championship victory over Southwest Atlanta Christian.

» Wesleyan girls hoops wins again

Wesleyan’s girls basketball team won the Class A state championship in March, the fifth-straight title for the Wolves.

Wesleyan is the second school in state history to win five titles in a row. The Wolves have won nine titles in the last 11 years. All of those championships were under head coach Jan Azar, who was inducted into the Gwinnett Sports Hall of Fame this summer.

RELATED LINK:

Wesleyan claims fifth straight state championship

Comments

chipperjones 1 year, 8 months ago

If other state winners are included in the Top Stories list, then why no mention of the Providence baseball team? And yet you included the Georgia Force folding? It was the 1st state boys title in the school's history and the last game played as the Stars.

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