Triumph in a season of firsts

The season began with two football state championships and finished with a couple of historic first-time champions on the baseball and softball diamonds.

In between, plenty of memorable moments highlighted the 2012-13 Miami-Dade County high-school sports season.

Here’s a look at some of the lasting memories made this past high-school year:

•  Tornadoes triumph: A year after a heartbreaking loss at state, Booker T. Washington’s football team got some payback with a 35-7 rout of the state’s winningest program Jacksonville Bolles to claim its first state title since 2007. No one had ever pushed mighty Bolles around the way the Tornadoes did on that December Saturday night in the Citrus Bowl as the 10-time state champ suffered its worst defeat ever in a final. Many of the Tornadoes nearly became state champions in track as well, finishing second at state in Class 2A by one point. With that talented cast returning nearly in full this fall, Booker T. might just be getting started in both sports.

•  Rockets rise: Led by arguably the most talented running back duo in the nation in Joe Yearby and Dalvin Cook, Central overcame two early losses to teams then-ranked No.1 nationally, and stormed to its second state title in three seasons. The Rockets even scored an early win against Booker T. and have not lost to a county opponent since 2009. A loaded returning cast that includes Yearby and Cook that will have former Northwestern coach Roland Smith coaching them next season should also be among the nation’s best and favored to repeat.

•  The Crusade: Dade Christian made it to the state championship game for the first time. It went undefeated up until the Class 2A final losing to Jacksonville University Christian, but not before a gutsy effort by its mostly two-way stars led it to its best season ever.

•  The Generals: Led by quarterback Quinton Flowers, a Jackson squad that had lost three in a row going into the playoffs caught fire, beating American Heritage, Miami Norland and Belle Glade Glades Central to reach the Class 5A state semifinals.

•  Ooh, Barracuda: Coral Reef had its best sports season in its 15-year history culminating with its first state championship in softball and in a girls’ sport overall. The Barracudas also made it to state for the first time in both boys’ and girls’ volleyball.

•  Viking dynasty: Nobody has dominated as consistently for nearly a decade in Dade basketball like Norland’s boys. The Vikings won their second state title in a row and fourth in the past eight years under coach Lawton Williams.

•  Hoop dreams:

Ransom Everglades and Westwood Christian each made it to the boys’ finals for the first time with dramatic playoff runs, and South Miami advanced to the finals for the first time in nine years.

•  Memorable Miami: No team had a more dramatic basketball postseason than Miami High’s girls. A pair of late-game shots by guard Melsheree Reid to beat Lourdes in the regional final and Orlando Colonial in the state semifinals led the Stingarees to a runner-up finish in Class 8A.

•  Four-peat and four titles: Gulliver won a total of four state championships in three sports including a fourth consecutive state championship in softball. The Raiders also swept the boys’ and girls’ tennis championships in Class 2A, and won their first girls’ water polo title since 2008.

Westwood won: Following up its first-ever trip to the state final four in basketball, Westwood Christian made school history when it won its first state baseball championship upsetting Deltona Trinity Christian in Class 2A.

•  Make it ten: The Northwestern girls’ track and field dynasty reached new heights claiming a 10th state championship, its fifth in a row and eighth in nine seasons. Thrower Lloydricia Cameron helped the Bulls keep the tradition going by winning the state shot put and discus titles.

•  Running and swimming: The Belen Jesuit Wolverines continued to dominate in both swimming and cross-country as each squad won their sixth state title in the past seven seasons.

•  Making progress: A few schools didn’t win state titles, but made big strides in their respective sports nonetheless.

After three years of building, North Miami Beach’s wrestling team won a regional championship.

Hillel made it to state for the first time in any sport when its boys’ soccer team reached Melbourne and the Class 1A final.

The Columbus lacrosse team got further than any other Dade team before it since the sport became sanctioned by reaching the state quarterfinals.

The Monsignor Pace flag football team advanced to the state final four becoming the first Dade team to do so in the sport’s history.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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