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Plenty of memorable moments shared in Collinsville Press in 2017

The Canton High girls basketball team went to the state finals for the third straight year and beat Thomaston for their second straight Class S championship.

Thank you for being a part of our Collinsville Press.com family in 2017.

In the past 12 months, more than 44,000 of you came to the site and viewed our stories and photos more than 264,000 times. Together, we’ve shared some memorable athletic moments and achievements in 2017. We look forward to sharing additional outstanding achievements in the months to come. Let’s take a look and recall some of the memorable moments from 2017. We wanted to pick 10 stories but we ran out of room and added a few more.

1.

Many people in Canton would rather forget the whole thing. Some say it was blown way out of proportion while there are some that just say it was kids being kids.

But in February, a group of Canton students taunted players from Hartford’s Classical Magnet School during a NCCC boys basketball tournament in Canton with chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump” and waved a Trump/Pence campaign banner.

The chanting didn’t last long. School officials stood in front of the students for the remainder of the game. But the impact had been made. The next day, Canton High held an assembly with the students regarding the incident and sent a letter home to parents. School administrators apologized to Classical for the behavior of the students.

The incident made national news. The New York Times and Sports Illustrated have written stories about President Donald Trump’s first year in office and referenced the incident. Forbes, Fox News and each of the state’s local television affiliates published stories about the incident.

“You feel for the kids because that’s not what they are all about. A few bad apples have changed the perception of what a great community this is,” Canton High girls basketball coach Brian Medeiros said two days later when his team hosted Windham High in a state tournament game.

Chanting Incident in Canton used to lead Sports Illustrated story about Trump and sports in the United States

In shadow of chanting discussion, Canton girls return to court and shut down Windham to advance

Ryan Enns drives to the basket in last February’s NCCC Tournament game against Hartford Classical.

2.

For the first time ever, a Canton High team won back-to-back state championships in basketball. Coach Brian Medieros’ girls basketball won a second consecutive Class S championship with a 60-51 win over Thomaston at the Mohegan Sun Arena. It was the third straight year the two teams had met in the finals. All-State forward Emily Briggs had a game-high 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for Canton (23-4) while freshman point guard Abby Charron had 15 points and six assists. Everyone chipped in to make it happen.

 

All-State forward Emily Briggs had a game-high 24 points in the Class S championship game against Thomaston.

3.

For the first time in 32 years, the Canton High boys basketball team brought home a league championship, winning the North Central Connecticut Conference crown with a 15-1 record. It was Canton’s fifth title in boys basketball since 1963 and the first since 1982. Craig Archambault, the fifth-year head coach of the Warriors, smiled and was at a loss for words about what it all meant. “They did it for their town. They did it for their community. They should be proud,” he said. “At the end of the year, it will sink in how far we have come.” He paused a second. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said with a big grin.

Canton senior Ethan Burke glides through the air on the way to the basket in a Class S quarterfinal loss to Waterbury Career Academy.

4.

Avon (23-8) became just the fourth team in Zone 1 history to win back-to-back titles in American Legion baseball. For Post 201, it was their third Zone 1 title in five years. In 2014, Simsbury and Avon tied for first place in Zone 1 but Simsbury won the title by winning the season series between the two teams. “When you have a group of talented kids like this, you need to get them into the right mindset, get them motivated and get them in the right spots to do what they know how to do,” said Avon manager Donny Annicelle. Avon advanced to the Northern Division finals of the state tournament, beating Southington in a best-of-3 series, 2-1. Avon actually won the first two games but had to forfeit the second game after it was completed due to an ineligible player. Avon got the Northern Division title game before losing to West Hartford.

Avon’s American Legion baseball team won the Zone 1 championship for the second straight year.

5.

The Canton High girls lacrosse team went 14-2 in the regular season and easily won the NCCC championship for the second straight year. The Warriors had their eyes on a second consecutive Class S state championship. In the quarterfinals against North Branford, Canton had to play the entire second half without leading scorer, All-State forward Grace Giancola who received a second yellow card. But the Warriors prevailed, 16-13.

But in the semifinals against New Fairfield, Canton had to play without five senior players including Giancola. Head coach Sean Cole had no comment on why the girls were suspended and calls to other Canton High administrators went unanswered.

The Warriors (17-3) started eight freshmen, three sophomores and a junior and still came close to winning. Canton had a one-goal lead early in the second half before New Fairfield wore down the Warriors with a 16-13 victory. “Every kid that played in that game gave everything they had to give,” Cole said.

The Canton High girls lacrosse team beat Ellington, 15-3, to win their second straight NCCC Tournament title.

6.

For the third time in the last four years, the Avon High girls cross country team won a state championship with a dominant performance. With four runners in the top 11 and five in the top 15, the Falcons had a school-record low 39 points with RHAM a distant second with 73 points. Senior Emily Foley led the way for Avon by finishing second in 20:21.

The Avon High girls cross country team won their third Class MM championship in four years with a dominating win over RHAM Saturday. (Photo courtesy Nicole Leavens)

7.

Senior Dustin Van Kirk became the first Canton athlete to win the CIAC decathlon. He had top 10 finishes in seven of 10 events. He was second in the javelin with a personal-best throw of 150 feet and three inches, fourth in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.97 seconds and fifth in the discus. “He’s good in everything,” said former teammate Cam Daley, who was back from Rowan University where he competes in the decathlon. He offered Van Kirk some suggestions throughout the meet. “He has no weak events, no Achilles heel. He is consistent across the board. He had a few great performances and that is all it takes.”

Canton’s Dustin Van Kirk in the final event of Wednesday’s CIAC decathlon in New Britain.

8.

The Avon High boys golf team put four players in the top 12 as the Falcons won their first state championship in golf in 32 years by beating New Canaan by three strokes in the CIAC Division II tournament at Tallwood Country Club in Watertown. Avon (19-3-1, 8-0 CCC Central White) had come close before. Six times in the last seven years, they finished in the top four in Division II including with a second place finish behind New Canaan in 2010. Junior Tyler Hahn shot a two-under-par 70 with four birdies to lead the Falcons. Later in the month, Hahn shot a three-under-69 to finish in a three-way tie for second place at the New England championships.

The Avon High boys golf team won their first state championship since 1985 with a three-stroke win over New Canaan.

9.

In Little League baseball, Canton won their first District 6 Major Division (ages 11-12) championship since 1988 with a win over Burlington. Canton advanced to the state tournament where they beat Prospect for their first-ever state tournament victory. Canton (7-3) lost in the Section II championship game to Wallingford but advanced farther than any other Canton team in the Major Division tournament.

The Canton Little League baseball All-Star team celebrates after beating Burlington, 7-0, to win the District 6 championship.

10.

In a span of four months, a group of girls in Canton accomplished two feats that had not been done before. The Canton High girls indoor track and field team won their first-ever NCCC championship in February with a 130-123 win over Ellington. In May, the Warriors (13-0, 12-0 NCCC) went undefeated in the dual meet portion of the schedule won a share of their first-ever NCCC title in outdoor track and field.

The indoor team had just 14 athletes on the team. The outdoor team wasn’t too much bigger. Everyone participated and competed in multiple events. “There is no one that says I only want to do one event,” Canton High coach Tim O’Donnell said. “We try to put all of the girls into situations where they can keep contributing. This is a very good team athletically. We have a lot of flexibility (to put girls in multiple events).

The Canton High girls indoor track team won their first-ever NCCC championship Monday night in New Haven. (Photo courtesy Samantha Brady)

Canton’s Amber Harraden, Cameron McCauley and Emily Mitchell stand with head coach Tim O’Donnell after Canton won a share of its first-ever league title in girls track Tuesday.

11.

Max Sparks became just the second Canton High runner to win a state championship in boys cross country by winning the Class SS championship. Sparks finished seventh at the State Open and ninth at the New England championships to earn All-New England honors.

Senior Max Sparks became the first Canton runner to win a Stratton Brook Invitational title. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

12.

Canton High girls cross country coach Tim O’Donnell was concerned he wouldn’t have enough runners (5) to field a varsity team with just two returning runners. But two players came over the girls soccer team and some talented freshmen joined the squad to help the Warriors go undefeated (13-0) and win their first league championship in 38 years. Canton put four runners in the top 10 to beat Ellington at the league championship meet, 46-73 and win the first league title since 1979.

The Canton High girls cross country team won their first-ever NCCC championship on Saturday at the league championship meet in Windsor Locks. (Photo courtesy Heidi O’Donnell)

13.

Avon High junior Carly Carpino won the 100 meter and 300 meter hurdles and took third in the long jump to help the Avon High girls track and field team to finish second in Class MM. Carpino, who set a school record in the 100 hurdles, became the first Avon girl to win two state titles on one afternoon in track and field. Avon’s 4×800 relay (Madison Sides, Emily Foley, Rhiannon Richmond, Christine Oberhausen) won a state title with a school record time of 9:36.39, breaking the mark set 21 years ago at the 1996 State Open championships by nearly two seconds. Junior Hayley Dougela took second in the high jump while junior Haley Gens finished third in the 3,200 meters. Carpino went onto to the New England championships where she placed ninth in the long jump.

Avon’s Carly Carpino clears a hurdle in the 300 meter hurdles at Class MM championship meet in New Britain.

The Avon High girls track and field team had a school-record 79 points and finished second at the Class MM championships in New Britain.

14.

Avon’s Kyle Emery finished second in two events and swam on a relay team that finished second to help the Avon High boys swimming team to their best-ever finish at the Class M championship meet. The Falcons finished sixth with a school-record 465 points. Six Falcons finished in the top six of their respective events and two relay teams finished in the top three of their respective events. The Falcons went 13-2 this season and won the CCC North White title — its first-ever league championship — with a 5-0 record. They also had a dominating victory over Wethersfield, 363-201, to win the CCC North White championship meet.

Avon High senior Kyle Emery earned three silver medals at Thursday’s Class M championship to help the Falcons finish fourth. (Photo courtesy Bob Emery)

15.

For many hockey fans, seeing the Stanley Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Hockey fans in the Farmington Valley were blessed with another opportunity in August. For a second straight year, Farmington native Nick Bonino brought the Stanley Cup to Avon Old Farms to share with fans. Bonino and the Pittsburgh Penguins won a second consecutive NHL championship in June.

 

Readers decide

Judged by the amount of visits to our Collinsville Press website, here are the top 15 stories from 2017.

  1. Canton’s Chris Robitaille plays pro basketball in Springfield
  2. An emotional Lobster Loop road race in Canton as hundreds honor the late Gordon Keller
  3. In shadow of chants, Warriors take the floor for girls basketball tournament opener
  4. Canton Little League baseball wins first District 6 championship since 1988 by beating Burlington
  5. Remembering Ally Doyle with a run in Collinsville
  6. Canton Little League All-Star baseball team wins first-ever state tournament game
  7. Canton QB Caleb McKane is part of two record scoring plays against Stafford
  8. After a forfeit, Avon American Legion baseball rallies to beat Southington game 3 and advance in state tournament
  9. Canton youngster earns spot on New England team that plays in USA Baseball tournament
  10. Tolland’s Carlson throws 4 TD passes as Eagles hand Avon High football team first loss of year
  11. Avon pitcher Connor Harris strikes out 17 in game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park
  12. Avon boys swim team tops Hartford Public for first-ever league championship
  13. Rookie QB Attianese runs for 3 TDs to lift Granby past Canton, 19-8
  14. Defense helps SMSA beat rival Classical for first NCCC Tournament title
  15. Avon’s Carpino, Foley, Hahn sign letters of intent

Top stories from the past

Top Collinsville Press stories from 2016

Top Collinsville Press stories from 2015

Top Collinsville Press stories from 2014

Top Canton stories from 2012Top Avon stories from 2012

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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