I know what you’ve been thinking. “Hey Sports Lounge, where is your annual year in a review? It’s Christmas time and 2013 will quickly morph into 2014. What gives?”
Relax, my faithful readers. Like a lot of other people, I was thrown off by the lateness of Thanksgiving which in turn led to sudden arrival of Christmas.
But it hasn’t caught me completely off guard. I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple weeks and I think I have a highlight reel of sports in 2013. I don’t usually do a lot of research for these kind of lists because if the highlight doesn’t jump out at me, it’s not really highlight now is it?
January through March: The beginning of 2013 saw the San Francisco 49ers return to elite status as they marched through the playoffs and secured on spot in their sixth Super Bowl. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out like the other five as the Baltimore Ravens withstood a furious second-half rally by San Francisco to hold off the 49ers, 34-31 — despite a non-holding call on Baltimore in the end zone that would have given the 49ers the win. But I’m not bitter.
On the local front, it was a banner playoff run for the Burlingame basketball program. Both the Panthers boys’ and girls’ teams captured Central Coast Section championships. The Burlingame boys won their first section title, somehow avoiding a matchup with a West Catholic Athletic League team and beating Santa Cruz 54-51. It was their first title after six second-place finishes since 2003 — five of those defeats coming at the hands of WCAL schools.
The Burlingame girls’ won their second-ever CCS crown and their first since winning the state title in 1988. It was the girls’ sixth appearance in a CCS title game, but their first since 1995.
April through early June: Spring didn’t provide a ton of highlights. The San Francisco Giants got off to a solid start to the season but saw it all go away in a puff of smoke as soon as Angel Pagan pulled a hamstring following his inside-the-park home run on Memorial Day. He would miss the next several months and the Giants would plunge to near the bottom of the National League West standings. Who would have though Pagan would be the guy that made the Giants go?
The Golden State Warriors, on the other hand, returned to relevance, not only qualifying for the playoffs for only the second time in about 20 years, but beating Denver in the first round of the playoffs and pushing the San Antonio Spurs to six games in the second round.
The local scene saw two more CCS titles earned, but maybe not in a sport you would expect. No, Serra did not capture a baseball title, despite rolling into the finals. And no, Carlmont came up short again in its quest for another softball championship, as did Half Moon Bay.
No, the big winners in the Spring were a pair of badminton players: Burlingame’s Jan Banquiles and Aragon’s Candy Zhang. Banquiles, a senior, finally captured an elusive CCS title after steadily climbing the ranks the previous two seasons. Zhang, just a freshman, won the first of what some expect to be several CCS championships.
June through August: Ah, the doldrums of the sports year. That time between the end of the Spring high school season and the start of the Fall season. The biggest story of the summer was the run of the Belmont-Redwood Shores Little League baseball team. The BRS 12-year-old all stars became the first team from San Mateo County to advance to the Western Regional tournament. BRS captured the District 52 title and went on to win both the Section 3 and Division 2 crowns to punch their ticket to San Bernardino with a chance to advance to the Little League World Series.
BRS won its first four games to advance to the championship game. It was such a big deal I decided to make the trip to Southern California and upon my arrival at the baseball complex, thought it was a good omen when I saw one of the intersections near the ballpark had the street names of “Belmont” and “World Series.”
Alas, it was not to be as the team from Chula Vista beat BRS. The boys from the San Diego area ultimately advanced to the World Series championship game.
August to December: This was a banner Fall for county teams, with four teams capturing CCS titles. The Sacred Heart Prep boys’ and girls’ water polo squads each won water polo titles. For the girls, it was their eighth straight CCS championship, while the boys won their third in a row.
In football, Serra finally won that elusive Open Division title, while Sacred Heart Prep won its second consecutive Division IV title. Both teams were chosen to play in the Northern California championship games, with Serra falling to Del Oro, while SHP shocked just about everyone with a dominating 42-7 win over El Cerrito.
There was no storybook ending, however, as the Gators came up short in the Division III state title game.
And for the third year in a row, the 49ers clinched a playoff spot following their win over Atlanta Monday night in the last regular-season game at Candlestick Park.
So there it is. A look back at the year that was. What can we expect in 2014? That’s for a column next week.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117 or by email: email@example.com. You follow him on Twitter@CheckkThissOutt.