Top 10 Local Sports Stories of 2022-Part 2
As the final days of 2022 wind down we continue our look back at the top ten local sports stories of 2022. There were some good sports moments in 2022 and there were some not so good moments. Here are the top five local sports stories of the year!
#5- South Carolina Fires Frank Martin-
The Gamecocks basketball team had not seen much success since the 1970s. In fact the Gamecocks had not won a NCAA tournament game since 1973 and had only made the tournament five times since that year. Disappointing appearances in the tournament in 1997 and 1998 and a first round exit in 2004 had been the Gamecocks most recent successes.
Frank Martin sparked the Gamecock fanbase when he was hired away from Kansas State after seeing some success in Manhattan. On one of Martin’s first days on the job, in 2012, he spent all day outside the Russell House meeting students hoping to get them excited about basketball.
The first two season were a real struggle. The rebuild from the Darrin Horne era was a tough one, as the cupboard had been left empty, and fans enthusiasm probably even further gone. In his third season 2015 he had a winning season, and then it looked as if the Gamecocks would make the NCAA tourney in 2016 but it wasn’t to be as they found themselves left out of the field and in the NIT.
But, in 2017 Martin and the Gamecocks broke through, reaching the Tournament and making an improbable run that started with wins over Marquette and Duke in Greenville and ended with a loss to Gonzaga in the Final Four. Enthusiasm for Gamecock Basketball was at an all-time high, but it was short lived.
Following the Final Four appearance it all went downhill for South Carolina and the Gamecocks failed to make the tournament in the ensuing five years. Following the failure to make the tournament in 2022 the Gamecocks parted ways with Frank Martin after ten years.
Martin complied a record of 171-147 in ten years at the helm in Columbia. Martin was replaced at South Carolina by Lamont Paris who was the head coach at UT Chattanooga.
#4 Raheim Jeter Shot/Returns to Play
After the 2021 football season there was a lot of excitement surrounding the Spartanburg Vikings. They had just made it to the Upperstate title game and had a majority of the team returning in 2022. In February that looked like it could change.
A very scary moment for their star quarterback Raheim Jeter when he was shot in what was described as a road rage incident. The Vikings quarterback was shot in his left leg and would require surgery.
The first worry was for Raheim and his well being. After it became apparent that he would be ok the question became how much damage was done and would he be able to play football again, and would it affect him on the field in anyway.
Doctors told him he would make a full recovery and expected him to be 100% by the time football season started.
They were right.
When August rolled around Raheim looked as good as everyone expected after the 2021 season. The Vikings quarterback ended the season 2344 yards through the air with twenty passing touchdowns.
Jeter was also selected to the Shrine Bowl and was named Upperstate offensive player of the year.
He also signed a letter of intent last week to attend college at East Carolina Univeristy where he is expected to contend for immediate playing time for the Pirates at quarterback.
#3 Broome Softball Wins State Title-
The Broome softball team had been right on the verge of winning the state title for the last few years. Union had gotten in their way a time or two but the Centurions were able to clear that hurdle. There was one hurdle left to clear in 2022 and that was winning it all.
Since Coach Rebecca Cooper had taken over the program just a few years ago this Broome team had been improving each and every year taken huge steps forward and getting closer and closer to claiming a title. In 2022 it started with a perfect 10-0 record in region play and continued with dominance in the playoffs.
The most dominant part of this team was Karley Green. In the first play off game of 2022 Green came out and threw a perfect game. Green would notch shutouts over Wren, Palmetto, and Union in the playoffs leading the Centurions to the state title series.
Now there was only one thing standing in the way of Broome and their title. The Aynor Blue Jackets.
In game one Green did what she does best and shut out Aynor in route to a 7-0 win.
Game two was a dual and Broome came up on the short end 2-1.
So it all came down to a final winner take all game three, and Green did it again blanking Aynor in route to Broome claiming the 3A Softball title.
The title was the first for the softball program at Broome.
#2 Jeremy Clements Wins Xfinity Race at Daytona
Dorman grad Jeremy Clements has been racing for a long time. He has seen success at every level he has competed at including his current series NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.
Things aren’t as easy for Jeremy as they are a lot of racers at his level, who are usually members of multi-car teams with seemingly endless supplies of resources and money. Jeremy’s team, Jeremy Clements Racing, is a single car team and is family owned. Money and resources are tight.
In 2017 Clements won his first race in the Xfinity series when he took the checkered flag at Road America. That win was the first win for an independent team at that level since 2006.
Clements’ would have to wait until 2022 to score his second win. It nearly happened at Darlington when he found himself upfront with just a few laps to go but it was not to be.
However Jermey would get the win at Daytona in the nigh race the WAWA 250 in August. Jeremy took the lead just before a caution flag flew on the final lap of the race. The win would qualify Clements for the playoffs which is a huge deal for an independent team.
The celebration was short-lived however, as upon inspection a violation was found on Clements’ car. He was allowed to keep the win but was declared ineligible for the Xfinity playoffs.
The team appealed the ruling by NASCAR and the penalty was vacated and Jeremy was declared eligible for the playoffs. He was eliminated in the first round.
For an single car team to make the playoffs is a huge win for JCR and something to build on as we head to Daytona in February of 2023.
#1 South Carolina Ends the Streak
It had been a long eight years for Gamecock fans. Seven consecutive wins for Clemson in the rivalry series, and after the 30-0 loss in 2021 the gap looked as big as ever.
The less than impressive start to the season by the Gamecocks didn’t inspire much confidence in their fans toward ending that streak. However some hope was renewed in the week before the game when the Gamecocks seemed to find some offense for the first time all year, when the took top five ranked Tennessee to the woodshed in a game that shocked the nation and eliminated the Volunteers from playoff contention.
But still, to go on the road to Death Valley and beat the Tigers and win back to back games over top ten opponents seemed like a feat too big to accomplish.
That seemed more like the case when the Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 lead early on South Carolina. Carolina would be held scoreless in the first quarter and finally got on the board in the 2nd. Clemson would take a nine point lead into the half.
In his halftime interview Coach Shane Beamer reiterated his faith in quarterback Spencer Rattler, sayin Rattler, “is the reason we are going to win this game.”
He was right. The second half and in the end the day belonged to the Gamecocks. Carolina would kick a field goal early in the 4th quarter that would prove to be the difference claiming a 31-30 victory of their in-state rival.
The win gave the Gamecocks an 8th win on the season a propelled them into their first ever appearance in the College Football Playoff rankings at #19.
The Gamecocks accepted a bid to play in the Gator Bowl against Notre Dame on December 30th in Jacksonville and will attempt to win a 9th game for just the 8th time in school history.
There you have it our top 10 local sports stories of 2022. Im sure there are things people will feel were left out and I know this list will be debated for decades to come.
I hope you all have a great last couple of days of 2022 and wish you all the best to come in 2023!
Happy New Year!