WKU football, South Warren football and BG Hot Rods titles among year’s top stories | Sports

There have been a number of highs and lows in 2021.

A 12 months after the sports activities international got here to a halt with the coronavirus pandemic, occasions returned – even because the virus nonetheless lingered. There have been record-setting performances, championships, close to misses and inspirational performances.

Here are the highest 10 tales of the 12 months, in no explicit order, as compiled through the Daily News sports activities division.

WKU remains in Conference USA

There have been primary shakeups in school sports activities this 12 months, with seismic shifts in convention alignments.

Conference USA misplaced 9 of its present individuals, prompting WKU to search for different choices. WKU had some discussions with the Mid-American Conference, with Middle Tennessee additionally becoming a member of to get the convention to fourteen individuals. MTSU opted to stick in Conference USA, and the MAC made up our minds to stay at 12 – leaving WKU in Conference USA. The convention is about so as to add 4 new faculties in 2023.

“I know that there’s certainly some uncertainty among our fans with how much Conference USA has changed and I know a lot of them – I could tell – became increasingly excited about the opportunity to join the MAC, as were we, but this is just one chapter in the book. It’s not the final chapter in the book. There will be a lot of great reading ahead,” WKU director of athletics Todd Stewart mentioned in an interview with the Daily News. “Stay with us and there will be a lot of exciting times coming up.”

Bailey Zappe/Jerreth Sterns rewrite WKU list books

Quarterback Bailey Zappe and large receiver Jerreth Sterns made essentially the most in their simplest season at WKU.

The Houston Baptist transfers helped make WKU one of the vital nation’s most enjoyable offenses because the Hilltoppers complicated to the Conference USA identify sport and earned a 59-38 win over Appalachian State within the Boca Raton Bowl.

Zappe completed with 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns on 475-of-686 passing with 11 interceptions. He broke LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s list of 60 landing passes in a season and Texas Tech’s B.J. Symon’s list of five,833 yards in 14 video games in 2003.

Sterns had 150 receptions, the third-most in school soccer historical past, and 1,902 yards, the fifth-most in school soccer historical past. He added 17 touchdowns.

Bowling Green Hot Rods win High-A East championship

It used to be well worth the watch for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, who claimed the High A East championship – successful the most efficient of five collection towards Greensboro 3-2.

After minor league baseball used to be canceled because of the pandemic in 2020, Bowling Green returned in a brand new league and steamrolled during the common season with a league highest 82-36 list.

The Hot Rods rallied from 2-1 down within the collection – becoming a member of Low A Charleston as Tampa Bay Rays associates that received league titles in 2021. Double A Montgomery complicated to the championship and Durham captured the Triple A countrywide identify.

South Warren soccer wins state Class 5A identify; Russellville performs for Class A identify

It used to be a robust 12 months for highschool soccer within the house. Logan County and Glasgow each made runs to their respective state semifinals, whilst South Warren and Russellville complicated to the championship sport.

Playing for its first state identify since 1990, Russellville’s second-half rally fell quick in a 30-27 loss to Pikeville. Russellville’s season ended with a run that captivated the neighborhood – a lot of whom made the trek to Lexington to cheer at the crew.

“The community support was absolutely amazing and great,” Russellville trainer Mikie Benton mentioned following the championship sport. “It’s always great to turn around and pretty much see everyone from back home being there. This run meant a lot. It’s been 31 years since we’ve been here. Unfortunately we couldn’t win it, but getting back here I think definitely sets a different standard in Russellville. I think it puts Class A on notice that we are going to be a team to be reckoned with. We definitely don’t anticipate it being another 31 years before we are up here.”

South Warren claimed its 1/3 identify for the reason that program started in 2011 with a 38-26 win over Frederick Douglass.

“That was a heckuva game,” South Warren trainer Brandon Smith mentioned following the win. “That is what it is all about. That’s what you do this for – the preparation. When you get in games like this you have plays you draw up on the board and they look pretty, but these games come down to guys making plays. Our players made big plays in big situations when they had to. They’ve done it all year long. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Charles Bassey drafted through Philadelphia 76ers

After mentioning for the NBA draft following his junior season, WKU heart Charles Bassey used to be decided on through the Philadelphia 76ers in the second one spherical of the 2021 draft in June.

Bassey has seemed in 15 video games this season, averaging 3.6 issues and three.4 rebounds in 9 mins a sport.

WKU sports activities supplies an emotional elevate after tornadoes devastate area

In the aftermath of tornadoes plowing throughout western Kentucky, together with Warren County, WKU sports activities gave Bowling Green an emotional elevate at the court docket and the sector.

WKU males’s basketball beat Ole Miss 71-48 in Atlanta lower than 24 hours after the tornadoes. One week later, WKU earned its first ever win at E.A. Diddle Arena over in-state rival Louisville with an 82-72 victory in entrance of seven,053 lovers.

The Louisville win got here hours after the WKU soccer crew received the Boca Raton Bowl.

“We’re playing this game for everybody that was affected, no doubt,” Zappe mentioned earlier than the bowl win. “I hope we go out and get the win for them, and hopefully we can come out of this game making them happy.”

WKU volleyball makes NCAA Tournament two times in 2021

After now not attending to play in 2020, the WKU volleyball crew had double the good fortune in 2021 – taking part in two seasons.

It started within the spring when WKU completed 18-0 within the common season – its first undefeated common season in program historical past – earlier than claiming its 6th Conference USA identify in seven seasons within the league. The Hilltoppers complicated to this system’s first Sweet 16, the place they fell to eventual nationwide champion Kentucky.

WKU adopted that up with a 28-2 season, falling to Georgia Tech in the second one spherical of the NCAA Tournament within the fall. WKU received 21 directly fits, together with a really perfect season in convention play, and had 22 sweeps.

WKU softball wins C-USA identify

With some native ability main the way in which, the WKU softball crew received the Conference USA identify and fell one sport shy of the regional ultimate – shedding to Duke 4-0 in 12 innings.

WKU completed 32-15 with Warren East merchandise Katie Gardner and Kendall Smith and South Warren product Shelby Nunn contributing during the common season and the postseason run.

Warren County South misses out on competing for Little League World Series because of COVID

Warren County South used to be in place to in all probability earn a commute to the Little League World Series, advancing to the Great Lakes Regional. Two wins from qualifying for the commute to Williamsport, Pa., South discovered a couple of hours earlier than dealing with Hamilton (Ohio) that there used to be a good check at the crew – forcing the crew to forfeit.

Hamilton and Taylor (Mich.) went directly to qualify from the Great Lakes Region, with Taylor successful the World Series.

“We knew the rules coming into it,” WC South supervisor Cary Page instructed the Daily News. “As coaches we discussed it multiple times, saying the biggest (opponent) that we’re going to fight is COVID. We were confident with baseball and still very confident the next two days were going to be our day. We really liked where we were at. But like I said, we knew the rules going into it and unfortunately it got us.”

Local trio make historical past at Soap Box Derby World Championships

Nathen Christian, Cameron Martin and Kelsey Sanford made historical past this 12 months, turning into the primary trio of racers from the similar the city to complete within the best 3 on the All-American Soap Derby World Championships.

Christian completed first within the Local Super Stock Division, whilst Martin completed moment within the Local Masters Division and Sanford completed 1/3 within the Local Stock Division.

“There has never been a region where all three cars that won (the local event) were top three in the world,” Christian mentioned. “That’s pretty awesome for everyone.”

Other tales that simply ignored the highest 10

• WKU’s Jamarion Sharp and Dayvion McKnight each recorded triple-doubles for the lads’s basketball crew, the 1/3 and fourth triple-doubles in program historical past.

• Meral Abdelgawad hits game-winning 3-pointer in triple additional time towards Charlotte in honor of her father, who passed on to the great beyond in the summertime of 2020.

• WKU football wins C-USA East identify within the spring.

• Former WKU standout quarterback Mike White makes NFL debut with New York Jets.

• Warren Central senior Jaida Tooley and sophomore Malik Jefferson win titles at KHSAA observe and box state meet.{&finish}

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