By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
It was an eventful 2012 in Southern Indiana, led by the horrible tornado disaster in early March.
The sports world had a ton of huge stories, as well — from state championships to record-breaking seasons to another year of soccer success.
Here’s a breakdown of the year’s top 10 sports stories in Clark and Floyd Counties:
1. Providence boys’ basketball makes return trip to the Final 4. For the second time in six years, Providence’s boys’ basketball team reach an elite level — the Class 2A Final 4. The Pioneers rode a nine-game winning streak into the tournament. After whipping Eastern in the opening round, Providence upset city rival Clarksville, which had beaten the Pioneers earlier in the season, 64-52 in the Paoli Sectional second round. After beating Crawford County to win its second sectional crown in six years, Providence blasted North Decatur 56-29 in the opening round of the Southridge Regional then captured its second regional crown in school history by beating Eastern Greene, 46-43. The Pioneers’ run came to an end at the Southport Semi-state at the hands of Park Tudor and All-American Yogi Ferrell, 62-49.
2. Providence has more soccer success. A year after the Providence girls won the Class A soccer championship in 2011 — the first state title in school history — the Pioneers experienced more success in 2012. The girls continued to dominate the Class A field with a return trip to the state finals, where they fell to Mishawaka Marian, 2-0. The Providence boys won their first regional title ever with a 2-0 win over Lawrenceburg. The Pioneers then defeated Evansville Mater Dei 3-2 in the semi-state opener before falling to Covenant Christian 2-1 just one step short of joining the girls at the state finals.
3. Charlestown breaks records, wins sectional. It was an unforgettable season for the 2012 Charlestown football team. The Pirates outscored their first 12 opponents 720-89, including a 62-10 win over Brownstown Central for their first sectional title since 1996. Charlestown led Gibson Southern 49-14 in the first half of the regional but was outscored 43-0 the rest of the way to come up short of their first regional crown since 1989.
4. Gilbert leads Jeff to sectional title in first season. A year after leading Jeffersonville’s girls’ basketball team to its first state championship, Chad Gilbert moved over to the boys’ bench at Jeff. In his first season, Gilbert led the Red Devils to a 20-4 record and a 69-63 victory over Bedford North Lawrence for Jeff’s 36th sectional crown and its second in three seasons.
5. Tornado plays havoc on sports. Obviously, the tornados in Henryville, Borden and Marysville is the biggest story of the year. In the sports world, the Henryville gymnasium took a direct hit, Silver Creek coach Joe Decker’s wife lost her leg, sporting events were canceled and much more. On the positive side, Hoosier Hills Hoops’ Matt Denison organized a charity basketball game that raised $23,000 for tornado victims.
6. Providence volleyball reaches state finals. Providence’s volleyball team spent much of the season ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, then rolled into the regional championship without dropping a set. The Pioneers avenged their 2011 regional loss to Eastern Greene with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-16 victory to earn a berth in the state finals. At state, Providence won the opening set against defending state champion Wapahani before dropping three straight.
7. Borden wins boys’, girls’ sectional titles. Borden’s boys went 22-2 and crushed South Central 71-51 to win their third sectional crown in five years. The Brave girls went 18-7 and rolled to their second straight sectional crown. In the regional, the Borden boys fell to Orleans in the semifinal, but the girls upset No. 1 Barr-Reeve in the regional semifinal before falling to Northeast Dubois in the regional championship.
8. New Albany 9-10s win state championship. For the second straight year, New Albany’s 9-10-year-old Little League All-State brought home the state title. After easily winning the District V title, New Albany went to Dyer and beat Evansville Golfmoor 11-2 to claim back-to-back state titles.
9. Jeff swimming dominates. Jeffersonville’s boys’ swim team dominated its Southern Indiana competition and rolled to a 147-point win over runner-up Floyd Central in the Floyd Central Sectional for its second straight sectional crown. The Devils then finished seventh in the state finals, their highest finish since a sixth in 1977.
10. New Albany girls win first soccer sectional title. After a comeback from a 2-0 deficit against rival Floyd Central, Tanner Marcum scored the lone goal to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 win over Jasper in the Floyd Centrtal Sectional title game. Marcum’s goal gave New Albany its first girls’ soccer sectional championship in school history.