CINCINNATI -- The anticipation, suspense and drama of high school sports certainly filled 2016 with several moments that captured our imaginations.
From outstanding individual performances to memorable journeys to the state tournaments, there are countless moments to be cherished.
In trying to come up with the top high school sports moment of the year, it’s very difficult to narrow down the list. So we included nine moments we liked the most along with several other noteworthy events or milestones.
Be sure to vote on your favorite moments by visiting our WCPO High School Sports Facebook page.
1. La Salle's three-peat
The Lancers won their third consecutive Division II state title Dec. 1 with a 14-7 win over Massillon Perry at Ohio Stadium. La Salle (13-2) is also just the ninth Ohio school to win at least three consecutive state football titles and the first program locally to win three in a row since Moeller (1975-77). La Salle had 28 seniors who claimed their third consecutive state title. It was the 15th playoff game the seniors have played over the past three years and their 15th victory.
“Not many people can say they’ve been here and say they’ve done this,” senior quarterback/defensive back TreSean Smiith said. “We’re the ones to do it -- that’s something to brag about.”
2. St. X's amazing run
In one of the most improbable journeys to the state title, St. Xavier became the first five-loss team to win a state football championship in Ohio.
The Bombers defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius 27-20 in double overtime in front of 13,690 at Ohio Stadium Dec. 2. It was the program’s third state title, joining teams that won the championship in 2005 and ’07.
“I’ve been around this for 25 years,” St. Xavier Athletic Director John Sullivan said on the field after the game. “This is the greatest game I’ve ever been a part of. We have two previous state championships, but this was tooth and nail and we were a five-loss team. Nobody expected us to be here. It’s just been tremendous.”
St. X (10-5) persevered through several injuries and also avenged a 31-14 regular-season loss at home to St. Ignatius in late October.
3. Beechwood gets its 12th
The Tigers won the school’s 12th state football title with a 21-14 win over Hazard in the Class 1A state final in Bowling Green, Kentucky Dec. 1.
“The best thing about this game was that it came down to will and I love when the Beechwood will wins out because of the work ethic these guy put in,” Beechwood coach Noel Rash said. “We had a little more in the tank when it mattered most.”
The title was the first for Beechwood (14-1) since 2008 when it defeated Hazard in Louisville.
“This is amazing, I couldn’t have asked for anything else,” said Trevor Soward, who scored two touchdowns. “The seniors stepped up this year, the underclassmen stepped up this year and we just got it done. The community has been great for us.”
4. Summit soccer repeat
The Silver Knights' boys' team won its second straight Division III state title with a 9-1 win over Kidron Central Christian Nov. 13 in Columbus. It was the Silver Knights’ five overall state boys’ soccer title.
Summit (21-1-1) scored six times in the second half after holding a 3-1 halftime advantage. Seniors Sam Martin and Cameron Belle combined for seven goals in the state final.
Nine Summit seniors won two straight state titles.
Summit recorded the most consecutive wins (18) and overall wins (21) in a single season in program history.
“This team is the perfect storm of talent, work ethic, leadership and character,” Summit coach Scott Sievering said. “I am extremely blessed as a coach and very aware that a group like this is truly special.”
5. Aquabombers win national title
St. Xavier won its eighth consecutive Division I state swimming and diving title and 37th overall at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton in February. The AquaBombers set a state-meet record with 398 points.
In July, St. X was named national champions. St. X took the top spot in the final 2016 National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (NISCA) rankings. They garnered a school-record 6,397 points en route to their eighth NISCA crown.
“I am extremely proud for the swimmers, coaches and parents who made this happen,” St. X coach Tim Beerman said. “It really does take a commitment from everyone.”
6. MND volleyball keeps rolling
The Cougars defeated Ursuline 17-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-14, 15-13 Nov. 5 to capture their fourth consecutive Division I regional title.
“We told these girls that this was going to be a really tough match, regardless which way it went,” MND coach Joe Burke said. “We have so much respect for Ursuline and know they’re a great team. I told them after the first set that we didn’t expect this to three. I’m really proud of how they came out and fought.”
MND finished the season as a state runner-up a week later in a heartbreaking four-game set with Brecksville-Broadview Heights at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.
7. Hendrix catch makes “SportsCenter”
Cooper senior wide receiver Dante Hendrix made a one-handed catch to remember Oct. 15 that was so good it made ESPN "SportsCenter’s" Top 10 plays.
Hendrix helped to lead the Jaguars past Boone County 41-13.
Hendrix could barely keep up with his Twitter notifications after the highlight. His messages kept wishing him well in one of the most memorable moments of the year.
“I was getting a lot of love from a lot of different people at our school, just talking about how they’d never seen a catch like that in person,” Hendrix said. “So it was really cool.”
8. Prohaska helps national team
Lakota West junior guard/forward Abby Prohaska was selected as one of 12 players for the USA Basketball Women’s Under-17 World Championship Team June 2 in Colorado Springs.
"Just hearing my name, having them say it, I can't believe it," Prohaska said. "I'm in shock."
She was able to play in Spain and in France. The U.S. team defeated China 65-50 July 2 in Zaragoza, Spain to win the bronze medal. On Nov. 30, Prohaska verbally committed to the University of Notre Dame after considering several scholarship offers.
9. Rough start for football
The first few weeks of the high school football schedule were bizarre to say the least. Weather postponed 27 Friday night Week 1 games due to the weather. The Friday doubleheader with La Salle against Sycamore and Lakota West against Moeller was postponed due to lightning in the area. Weather caused another delay on that Saturday forcing games to start later.
In Week 3, bomb threats were called in to the La Salle at Colerain and Moeller at Mason games. Colerain and La Salle completed the game but remained on the field in the post-game before being cleared to access the locker room inside Colerain High School. Moeller played at Mason on Sunday afternoon after the teams never got to take the field for kickoff at Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium.
Other significant moments from 2016:
- Withrow wins the girls' track and field Division I state title.
- St. Xavier repeats as Division I state champions in golf.
- Nine Manta Rays qualify for the Olympic Swimming Trials.
- Roger Bacon's Bron Bacevich Stadium is impacted by area flooding.
- The OHSAA moves Division I playoff football games to Friday nights.
- Princeton basketball standout Darius Bazley verbally commits to Ohio State after he transferred from Finneytown.
- Elder football team upsets No. 1 Lakewood St. Edward at The Pit Sept. 17.
- Lawrenceburg football makes memorable run to state title game.
- Port Authority purchases the Cincinnati Gardens and area hockey teams have to seek other venue options.
- Ursuline volleyball coach Jeni Case wins her 400th career match.
- Fairfield softball coach Brenda Steiger wins her 400th career game.
- The La Salle and Badin baseball teams finish as state runners-up.
- Colerain wins its 500th game as a program. Coach Tom Bolden wins his 100th career game.
- Aiken boys' basketball team makes it to the state Final Four for the first time in school history.
- Colerain standout football player Amir Riep verbally commits to Ohio State.
- St. Xavier football standouts Sean Clifford and Matt Bockhorst are selected to the Under Armour All America Game.