The accomplishments by Bootheel athletes were unprecedented and at times unheard of at their respective schools before 2012. Other accomplishments represented the continued success of perennial powerhouses in the Bootheel.
One Dunklin County athlete was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. Another signed to play softball at the University of Missouri. A football player from Malden won the Carr Trophy for the first time in school history.
A boys basketball team made its first trip to the state final four since 1983.
Another basketball team ended Kennett's streak of three straight Bloomfield Christmas Tournament titles hours before 2013.
The Kennett swim team, tennis team and baseball team; Dunklin County Legion baseball team; Risco boys basketball team; Caruthersville football team; Gideon volleyball team; and Cooter baseball team continued their annual success.
A football team finished with a perfect 5-0 record in the SEMO Conference South.
Coaching changes, some likely more welcomed than others, also took place with more frequency than in previous years.
Listed below are the 2012 Top 15 sports stories in the Bootheel. They are listed in chronological order:
Note: You may vote for the top sports story of 2012 by participating in our online poll at the bottom of the page. Stories involving teams in the following schools were eligible to make the Top 15: Malden, Clarkton, Holcomb, Kennett, Southland, Delta C-7, South Pemiscot, Cooter, Caruthersville, Risco, Campbell, Hayti, North Pemiscot, Gideon, Portageville, Senath-Hornersville
Hayti boys basketball program takes 3rd in Class 2
Jan. 2012 to Mar. 2012 - The Hayti Indians varsity boys basketball team went 18-4 in the final three months of the 2012 season after going 4-6 in Dec. 2011 in its first 10 games. Hayti defeated Kennett 53-51 on Feb. 3 to win the varsity Bootheel Conference basketball tournament for the first time since 1997. Fourth-seeded Hayti beat top-seeded Portageville 49-46 on Mar. 1 in its district semifinal when Hunter Turner tallied his first field goal of the game when he hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Hayti continued its path to the final four the next night when it defeated Holcomb 54-51 in overtime to win in its third Class 2 district title in five seasons. Hayti followed its district title win with a 67-55 triple overtime win against Thayer in a Class 2 state sectional contest on Mar. 7. Hayti booked its first trip to the final four since 1983 three days later when it blistered Oran 74-48 in a state quarterfinal game. Hayti suffered a 79-60 loss to 2012 Class 2 state champion Billings in the state semifinals before it beat Osceola 78-53 in the Class 2 third-place game. Hayti finished the 2011-12 season with a record of 22-10 under head coach Philip Taylor. Taylor was selected Bootheel Conference Coach of the Year and Hayti senior Jerome Thomas was selected Bootheel Conference Player of the Year.
Risco boys basketball team wins most games in school history
Jan. 2012 to Mar. 2012 - The 2011-12 varsity boys basketball season was the winningest season in school history for the Risco Tigers. Risco finished its season with a record of 24-4. The win total surpassed the mark set by the 1973-74 Risco team that finished 22-6 under coach Stan Whitson. Risco defeated Holcomb to win the Bernie Tournament for the first time in 37 years and beat the Gideon Bulldogs 88-72 on Mar. 1 to win its third straight Class 1, District 1, title. Risco's season ended with a 100-76 loss to eventual Class 1 state champion Scott County Central in a Class 1 state sectional contest. Risco was coached by Brandon Blankenship.
Multiple coaching changes in Bootheel
Spring 2012- The coaching changes started in the spring and continued throughout most of the year. Varsity girls basketball coach Spencer Hoffman resigned after a two-year stint at Kennett. Rod Baxter replaced Hoffman as girls coach at Kennett. David Heeb resigned after serving as the varsity head basketball coach at Caruthersville for three seasons and accepted the varsity boys job at Senath-Hornersville. Heeb replaced Shane Jordan as varsity boys coach. Randy Smith, who had served as head baseball coach at Senath-Hornersville since 1995, left the program to accept the head baseball coaching job at Blytheville, Ark. Senath-Hornersville native Jamie Johnson replaced Smith as the head baseball coach at Senath-Hornersville. Veteran varsity boys basketball coach Delane Beckwith returned to Clarkton for a second-stint as head coach. Corey Adkisson resigned after serving as the head football coach at Kennett for two seasons. His replacement has not been named. Jeff Bullock was named head football coach at Portageville.
Repeat Rally: Kennett baseball team wins 2nd straight district title
May 2012 - For a second straight season the Kennett Indians baseball team entered the final inning of the Class 3, District 1, baseball championship trailing by two runs. Kennett's offense rallied in a must-score situation yet again, plating four runs on just three hits in the final inning on its way to a 6-4 district championship win against the state-ranked Notre Dame Bulldogs. The trouble started for Notre Dame in the final frame when Kennett's DK Wallace reached base with a leadoff single in the top of the seventh. Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett went to the mound following Wallace's single and replaced his starting pitcher Justin Landewee with left-handed reliever Jon Lynch. Lynch walked the first batter he faced - Daniel Lockhert - to put runners at first and second with one out. Lynch then collected the first out of the inning by striking out Kennett's next hitter - Justin Smith. Kennett's Logan Dollins followed Smith's at-bat by hammering an RBI-single to the outfield. The hit scored Wallace and Kennett's other two baserunners advanced to second and third when the ball skipped past a Notre Dame outfielder. Graviett went to the mound again following Dollins' hit and made his second pitching change of the seventh inning. Ross James replaced Lynch on the mound. James intentionally walked Adam Grantham to load the bases with one out in the one-run game. Kennett's Collin Smith followed Grantham's walk with a game-winning single that never reached the infield dirt. Smith's softly hit single rolled down the first base line without reaching the first base bag. Three Kennett runs scored following the collision between Notre Dame's pitcher and first baseman as the ball rolled toward the Bulldogs' dugout. Smith was eventually thrown out at second on the play, but the damage was already done. James got Kennett's Kevonte Mitchell to fly out for the final out of the top of the seventh. Kennett starting pitcher Grantham returned to the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning and earned a complete-game win following his team's offensive rally. The Kennett baseball team finished its season with a 24-4 record. Kennett beat Park Hills Central 4-2 in a state sectional contest before suffering a 4-2 loss to Lutheran South in a state quarterfinal contest. Two seniors on the team - Grantham and Dollins - signed to play baseball at Arkansas State University. Aaron New was the head coach at Kennett. Another senior - Lockhert - signed to play baseball at the University of North Dakota.
Cooter baseball program wins 7th straight district title
May 2012 - Nothing changed in the Class 1, District 1, baseball tournament in 2012. The Cooter Wildcats defeated the Holcomb Hornets 8-3 in the Class 1, District 1, title game on May 16 to secure its seventh straight Class 1 district title. Cooter's Brandon Bridges earned a complete-game win on the mound in the district championship. Cooter's Patrick Ward was 1 for 4 with two RBIs and Melvin Cummings went 3 for 4 with two RBIs against Holcomb. Bridges, Dustin Franklin and Tyler Thornton had one RBI each for Cooter. Cooter defeated Southland 11-5 in its district semifinal contest. Cooter's season ended when it suffered a 6-3 loss at Oran in a Class 1 state sectional contest. Cooter finished its season with a record of 20-6. Allen Crawford was the head coach at Cooter.
Atlanta Braves draft Adam Grantham
June 2012 - Kennett pitcher Adam Grantham wasn't shocked when he received a phone call from an Atlanta Braves scout on June 6 informing him he had been selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft.
"I knew there were some rumblings about me being drafted," Grantham said, when asked if he expected the call. "I knew it was a possibility, but at the same time I didn't know for sure.
"I was sitting at my house and Jon David French called me Wednesday afternoon," Grantham continued. "He's the scout for the Braves who kind of got it all going. He told me the Braves called him and told him they had drafted me. That's kind of how it went down."
Grantham was taken in the 32nd round and was the 989th overall pick by the Braves.
Grantham was selected as the SEMO Conference Player of the Year in baseball in 2011. He was also selected to the SEMO Conference all-conference team, Bootheel Conference all-conference team and all-district baseball team in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Grantham batted .531 for Kennett in 2011 with 41 RBIs and six home runs. Grantham went 6-0 on the mound and finished the season with a 1.56 ERA in 2011. In 2012 Grantham batted .364 with 25 RBIs and three home runs. Grantham went 7-1 on the mound with a 1.42 ERA. He pitched a perfect game in the Bootheel Conference championship against Malden on May 3, 2012.
Kennett won district baseball championships Grantham's junior and senior seasons.
Grantham passed up the Braves' offer. He is slated to play baseball at Arkansas State University in the 2012-13 season. Arkansas State is a four-year college located in Jonesboro, Ark.
Dunklin County Legion wins 7-Up Classic
July 2012 - Dunklin County Post 303 Legacy Equipment Legion took home the top prize at the 8-team 7-Up Classic baseball tournament in Paragould, Ark., on July 1 when it beat Poplar Bluff Senior Babe Ruth 8-7 in the title game. Dunklin County calculated at least eight runs in all three games it played at the 3-day tournament and extended its winning-streak to five games with the championship victory. Dunklin County beat Paragould, Ark., 8-4 in a quarterfinal game at the tournament. Dunklin County scored five runs in the final inning of its semifinal against Jackson, Mo., Legion at the tournament. The offensive rally allowed Dunklin County to overcome an 8-6 deficit in the seventh inning and claim an 11-9 win against conference rival Jackson. Jamie Johnson served as the head coach of Dunklin County Legion.
Kennett Killer Whales swim team wins 2nd straight conference swim meet
July 2012 - The Kennett swim team won its conference swim meet for a second straight season July 21. Kennett calculated a first-place score of 5,034.50. The Gator swim team finished second with a score of 4,841.50. The Poplar Bluff swim team placed third with a score of 1,914. Malinda Harris was the head coach of the Kennett swim team in 2012. The Kennett swim team featured approximately 150 swimmers in 2012. The Kennett swim team was established in 1949 by Jeanette Miles.
Portageville football team finishes 9-2
Aug. 2012 - Nov. 2012 - The Portageville football team put together its first non-losing season since 2004 in 2012 when it went 9-2 under first-year head coach Jeff Bullock. Portageville opened its season with seven straight wins. Portageville defeated Cabool 50-7 in a Class 1 district quarterfinal and Hayti 30-12 in a Class 1 district semifinal before suffering a 47-10 loss to traditional talent Valle Catholic in a district title game. Portageville went 5-0 in the SEMO Conference South.
Gideon volleyball team wins district and conference titles
Sept. 2012 - Oct. 2012 - The Gideon volleyball team won its first district championship in volleyball since 2007 when it defeated Cooter in three sets on Oct. 23. Gideon was eliminated from the state playoffs when it suffered a straight-set loss to Bernie in a Class 1 state sectional contest at Lesterville. Gideon finished its season with a 26-7 record. It graduated two seniors Morgan Beck and Morgan Marcus. Gideon won the Tri-County Conference Tournament and Gideon Invitational Tournament. Gideon's Niki Lowry was selected Tri-County Conference Player of the Year. Lowry averaged 10.3 kills per game. Gideon coach Kristen Ashabranner was selected Tri-County Conference Coach of the Year.
Kennett girls tennis team places 4th in Class 1
Oct. 2012 - The 2012 tennis season turned out to be the greatest in school history for the Kennett girls tennis team. The Kennett Lady Indians placed fourth at the state final four on Oct. 18. Kennett's final team record in 2012 was 19-3. Kennett put together a 19-game winning-streak and advanced to the state final four for the first time in school history. Kennett defeated Sikeston 5-0 in its district semifinal match, beat Notre Dame 4-1 in the district championship, collected a 5-2 win against North County in Class 1 state sectional match and booked its first trip to state in team competition with a 5-2 state quarterfinal victory against Lutheran South. Barstow defeated Kennett 5-0 in its Class 1 state semifinal contest and Logan-Rogersville beat Kennett 5-0 in the Class 1 third-place match. Starters on the varsity squad were Anna Kay Hilburn, Darby Sparks, Kate White, Kelsey Washburn, Kara Heeb and Alexa McPherson. The Lady Indians graduated Hilburn and White. Hilburn went 16-5 in singles play and White finished with a 9-7 record in singles in 2012. Sparks, a junior, went 17-4 in singles. Heeb, a sophomore, finished 13-3 in singles. Washburn, a junior, went 13-3 in singles and McPherson, a freshman, went 9-7 in singles. The team was coached by legendary tennis coach Janet Hilburn, who has coached Kennett to six straight district titles in girls tennis and served as tennis coach for the last 19 seasons.
Caruthersville Tigers football team advances to Class 2 final four
Nov. 2012 - Traditional talent Caruthersville won its fifth straight district football title in Class 2 in 2012 when it beat Charleston 49-22 on Nov. 5. Caruthersville advanced to the state final four for the first time during the five-year span after being eliminated in the state quarterfinals the previous four years. Caruthersville defeated Maplewood-Richmond Heights 54-37 in a Class 2 state quarterfinal before suffering a 69-12 loss at Lamar in a Class 2 state semifinal. Caruthersville finished with a record of 10-3 and went 4-0 in the SEMO Conference Central. Caruthersville was coached by Nathan Morgan.
Southland's Jordan Zolman signs to play softball at Mizzou
Southland's Jordan Zolman started playing softball on traveling teams in the Missouri Bootheel in 2002 when she was just eight-years-old. On Nov. 17 Zolman moved one step closer to playing softball at a top college when she signed her national letter of intent to play softball at the University of Missouri in Columbia in the 2013-14 season. Zolman, who has served as the primary pitcher at Southland, expects to play the infield at Mizzou. A signing ceremony was held at the Southland High School gymnasium on Nov. 17. Southland principal and softball coach Johnny McMinn spoke to the community about the significance of the signing at the ceremony.
Zolman, who is a senior at Southland High School in Cardwell, Mo., has left her mark on the Southland softball program since the day she stepped onto their diamond. The Southland softball program went 15-0 during Zolman's freshman season in 2010. Zolman batted .653 with 34 RBIs and nine home runs during her freshman season. She also threw five shutouts, two no-hitters, calculated 151 strikeouts and had a 1.40 ERA. Zolman has continued to put up impressive numbers since. She had a .641 batting average with 26 RBIs and seven home runs in 2011. She struck out 136 and had a 1.76 ERA in 2011. In 2012 Zolman batted .837 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. She struck out 230 in the circle and had a 2.09 ERA. Southland has won the Tri-County Conference spring softball tournament all three seasons Zolman has been in high school. Southland finished 10-3 in 2011 and 16-2 in 2012.
Romello McCoy becomes first Malden player to win Carr Award
Nov. 2012 - Romello McCoy wanted to prove that you can have big-time success at a small school. He did just that during his senior year of football. McCoy won the first E.E. 'Bus' Carr Award, which is given to the SEMO Conference's most outstanding player, in Malden school history Nov. 28 at the 67th Annual Poplar Bluff Letter Club Gridiron Banquet at the Black River Coliseum. The award has been handed out since 1979. McCoy beat out fellow nominees Kyland Gross, a senior quarterback from Sikeston, and Caruthersville junior running back Darrell Monroe. McCoy rushed for 2,106 yards this past fall and scored 31 rushing touchdowns. He also had a receiving touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown. He led the SEMO Conference in points scored with 214 as the Green Wave went 8-3 this fall.
Note: The Daily American Republic contributed to this summary.
Holcomb basketball team wins first Bloomfield Christmas Tournament in school history
Dec. 2012 - Less than four hours before the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve the Holcomb Hornets basketball team completed its unprecedented run at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament. Holcomb defeated Kennett 75-71 in the championship of the 16-team varsity boys basketball tournament. No. 6 seeded Holcomb's path to the finals included a 65-42 first-round win against No. 11 seeded Van Buren, 56-44 quarterfinal win against No. 3 seeded Hayti and 52-39 semifinal win against No. 2 seeded Bernie. Holcomb's championship win ended Kennett's streak of three straight Bloomfield Christmas Tournament titles. It was the first time in school history Holcomb had won the tournament. Two Holcomb players - Jamie Massey and Ryan Reeves - were selected to the all-tournament team. Holcomb improved its record in the 2012-13 season to 9-3 with the victory. Holcomb was coached by Seth McBroom.