December 20th, 2014

LCSN top stories of 2014 - Honorable Mention

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Paul Najjar

Senior Writer

LCSN top stories of 2014 - Honorable Mention
Sacred Heart's Sydney Flynn and teammates give first year head coach Chuck Roesler the Gatorade bath / file photo by Conor Revel

The Louisville Catholic Sports Network has chosen its top 10 stories of 2014 and will post them in a series that starts Dec. 19 with an honorable mention list. LCSN then will have a story each day, with the exception of Christmas, until our top story of the year appears on Dec. 31. Here’s Part II of this year’s very worthy honorable mention list:

Honorable Mention – No’s. 15-11

15. Sacred Heart basketball returns to state

It wasn’t an easy road, but veteran Sacred Heart head coach Donna Moir was able to coax out another great season from her Valkyries, this time ending it with a trip to the Sweet 16. It was SHA’s first regional title since winning its third straight title in 2004.

“Ten years, it has been 10 years since I have been back,” Moir said after defeating Ballard 46-39 in the Seventh Region title game. “I’ve had a lot of good teams and a lot of adversity. We just came out and played tonight. We didn’t play our best, but we played well enough to win.”

The Valkyries lost to No. 1-ranked Elizabethtown 76-61 in the round of 16, but by no means did that diminish a fine 27-8 campaign.

“I have never been so proud of a group of girls than the ones sitting right here,” Sacred Heart head coach Donna Moir said. “DaiJia (Ruffin), Raven (Merriweather) and Gretchen (Samsel) have led this group all year. They have bought into our program and did everything we asked them to do.”

Ruffin, who earned a scholarship to play at U. Tenn.-Martin, averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds and Merriweather, know playing at Bellarmine University, put up 16.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Senior Gretchen Samsel was always a threat with her long range shooting, defense and rebounding and point guard Ashley Johnson ran the offense with a mix of passing, driving and scoring.

14. St. Xavier Lax takes back crown

The Tigers wrested back the title from rival Trinity with a solid 10-6 win in the championship game. It was St. Xavier’s sixth title in the past seven years and though they finished with a 17-3 record, they were unbeaten in the state of Kentucky.

“It has been a long year waiting to get back to the title game,” St. X head coach Scott Howe said during the celebration. “In a game like this that has so much emotion, the guys kind of tend to forget a few of the fundamentals. It’s really hard to beat a team twice in a season. We scored more than they did, and that’s all that matters.”

Will Roshkowski, Bellarmine signee, team captain and one of its most potent offensive threats said: “This is redemption. It is what we have been saying all year: We’re here to take State back to its rightful owner. And now we have done it.”

St. X won its final 10 games of the season, each by at least five goals, with the exception of the state championship game against Trinity.

In the state final, Leland Gray led the Tigers with four goals. Roshkowski (2 goals), Collin Roppel (2), Graham Weyland and Blake Roshkowski also scored for the Tigers.

13. Sacred Heart Lacrosse wins back-to-back titles

A well-conditioned Sacred Heart team won its second consecutive state championship and third in four years with an 11-8 win over Kentucky Country Day. With first-year head coach Chuck Roesler stressing a more aggressive, attacking transition style predicated on better fitness, the Valkyries finished the season with a stellar 21-3 record.

“The theme that we have told the girls all year is our conditioning,” Sacred Heart head coach Chuck Roesler said. “This game could have gone either way. The difference to me was our conditioning. Our transition offense and defense is why we’re state champions.”

Goalie Mary Alyce Furlong keyed the back line of the Valkyries’ defense and outstanding junior Sydney Flynn controlled the midfield and the attacking zone with a mixture of speed, strength and an incredible feel for the game.

Rachel Schmetzer, Hannah Hardy and Bridget Odom each scored three goals for Sacred Heart, and Lisa Niblock and Meg Daunhauer added one each.

12. Trinity basketball ranks among tops in state

The Shamrocks played second fiddle all season long to Ballard’s unanimous No. 1-ranked team. But, in the Seventh Region championship game, when it mattered most, the Rocks pulled off a thrilling upset on its way to an appearance in the state semifinals.

“I’m so proud of these young men and our team,” said Szabo. “The way that we finished our season, we had a great year and a lot of success. Winning the Seventh Region is always incredibly tough, and it was only the third time in Trinity history that we’ve done that.”

Though they dropped a heart-wrenching contest to Scott County 62-56 in the semis, Trinity finished the season 31-6 against one of the toughest schedules in the Midwest and avenged two losses to Ballard with that win in the Seventh Region championship.

With their trademark defense limiting opponents to just 47.3 points per game, the Rocks consistently found themselves with opportunities to win games with their largest margin of defeat handed to them by the Bruins 65-54 in the championship game of the King of the Bluegrass Tournament.

11. St. Xavier swimming wins 26th consecutive state championship

Despite having its 200 Free Relay team disqualified for an early takeoff in the Regional swim meet, the St. Xavier Tigers swim team rallied with several top level finishes to win its 26th consecutive state championship.

Just days prior to the state meet, the buzz around the Commonwealth was that the Tigers’ win streak and stranglehold on the state championship could very well come to an end. But head coach Todd Larkin’s talented, veteran squad of swimmers rose to the occasion to outscore runner-up Covington Catholic 361 to 328.5.

“I don’t think we ever panicked; we didn’t ever worry,” Larkin said. “We’ve got a veteran team with a lot of leadership. You know, sometimes teams need to be pressured. We needed this. It’s not always a bad thing to have your backs against the wall. It brought the best out of our team. The seniors were 54-0 coming in, and you lean on those guys and they put it (the state trophy) in their hands.”

It was the 50th state title for the storied St. Xavier swim program.

“This state championship feels a lot different,” St. X senior Jacob Smith, who won the 100 yard butterfly, said. “We had to work a lot harder this year knowing that it wasn’t going to be a blowout. We didn’t want to be known as the senior class that broke the streak. It was a big relief as much as joy when we ended up winning.”

Noah Johnston, seeded third in the 500 freestyle, surprised the crowd with a stunning victory. The senior touched the wall in 4:30.65, nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Ethan Curl of Tates Creek (4:32.91).

“I knew that we’d have to do our best to win, but I didn’t feel like an underdog,” Johnston said. “I knew I could do well, and I knew I could swim fast.”

It was incredible streak that was in jeopardy, but the seniors found a way to bring back to Poplar Level Road.

“All of them stepped up, it was a team effort,” Larkin said. “I think all of our swimmers have the capabilities to win a state championship. They knew what needed to get done, and that’s what they did. They got the job done.”


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