A few months ago, it seemed like the school year would never end.
Now here we are fast approaching the second weekend of June, looking at the 2012-2013 school year from the rearview mirror.
That is, with the exception of St. Charles East's baseball and softball teams, who are very much alive and well heading into today's Class 4A state semifinals -- both just 2 victories away from earning state championships.
Here's my annual look back at the rest of the 2012-13 school year:
There were plenty to choose from but one would be hard-pressed to match the back-and-forth excitement found during Batavia's 42-41 victory over Class 8A powerhouse Glenbard North in the regular season football opener on Aug. 24.
This past winter, St. Charles East upset St. Joseph 53-48 in pool play of the Saints' own Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament on the way to capturing its first tourney title since 1994 (beating St. Charles North, 61-42).
Last weekend, the Saints' softball team earned its first sectional crown since 1994 with a dramatic come-from-behind 7-6 victory over Glenbard North.
Trailing 4-0 with 1 out and nobody on base in the top of the seventh, Geneva's baseball team rallied for 5 runs during its 5-4 win over St. Charles East. The Vikings' comeback included 6 consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly prior to Jake Weede's game-winning RBI single.
Best comeback II
One out away from having to share the Upstate Eight Conference River Division softball title with St. Charles East, St. Charles North staged a 4-run, seventh-inning rally to win 5-3 on the Saints' home field.
"It's great that we win tonight but when you hear about stuff like that, it brings things back to reality. I've got little kids in elementary school. The whole afternoon I was worrying about my kids. I certainly wasn't thinking about the game today." -- Geneva boys basketball coach Phil Ralston following his team's 59-33 win over Streamwood on the same day as the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Most quotable athletes
Johnathan Harrell, Aurora Christian; Micah Coffey, Liza Fruendt, Zach Strittmatter, Batavia; Anthony Bragg, Chris Parrilli, Sidney Santos, Geneva; Dom Adduci, Joe Hoscheit, Kendall Stephens, Erienne Barry, Amanda Hilton, Kate Peterburs, St. Charles East; Alex Gage, Tony Neari, Quinten Payne, Cory Wright, St. Charles North.
Top individual performance(s)
Just about any of Matt Starai's starts for St. Charles East's baseball team this spring. The senior right-hander (10-1) was especially dominant over a 2-week stretch when he pitched back-to-back 2-hit shutouts against co-UEC River champion Batavia.
This past winter, Batavia junior guard Liza Fruendt poured in 27 of her team-high 29 points, including 5 3-pointers, in the second half to lift the Bulldogs' girls basketball team to a road victory over St. Charles North.
Top individual performances by an opponent
Last month, Cody Coll tossed a 2-hit complete game, outdueling Starai during Neuqua Valley's 4-0 victory over St. Charles East.
Elgin senior guard Arie Williams made 12 of 14 shots from the field, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range during the Maroons' 70-67 basketball triumph over St. Charles East.
Best local teams I covered
Aurora Christian football, Batavia football, St. Charles East boys soccer, Geneva girls volleyball, St. Charles East boys basketball (prior to Kendall Stephens' season-ending injury), Geneva girls basketball, St. Charles North girls soccer, St. Charles East baseball, St. Charles East softball, St. Charles North softball.
Best opposing teams I saw
Proviso East boys basketball, Neuqua Valley baseball.
Most electrifying players
Chad Beebe, Joel Bouagnon, Aurora Christian; Micah Coffey, Laren Eustace, Liza Fruendt, Anthony Thielk, Batavia; Nick Derr, Bobby Hess, Sidney Santos, Geneva; Drew David, Kaneland; Amanda Hilton, Lexi Perez, Dom Adduci, Brannon Barry, Cole Gentry, Carly Pottle, St. Charles East; Alex Gage, Kelly Manski, Quinten Payne, Sabrina Rabin, St. Charles North.
Top game-winning shot
Junior guard Dominic Adduci's desperation heave from just beyond half-court that banked in as the buzzer sounded, giving St. Charles East a 64-61 victory over Glenbard East during the Proviso West Holiday Basketball Tournament.
Geneva and St. Charles East staged a pair of memorable girls basketball overtime classics, as the Saints won 81-75 in early December before the Vikings claimed a 75-69 home triumph in mid-January.
The human-interest pieces that featured St. Charles North's girls volleyball team giving back to the community during a visit to Marklund last fall in Geneva, and a look at 80-year-old St. Charles East "Super Fan" Lloyd Jones.
After 724 consecutive games spanning 27 seasons under the guidance of Jim Roberts, Batavia's boys basketball team had a new coach on its sideline last fall/winter. Longtime Wheaton North coach and current Batavia resident Jim Nazos enjoyed his debut in mid-November during the Bulldogs' 47-45 win over Kaneland at the Ken Peddy Windmill City Classic.
Injury bug hits hard
Season-ending injuries struck for several local standouts, including Geneva's Michaela Loebel (basketball/soccer), Erin Kozlow (basketball), Andy Honiotes (baseball); Mitch Endriukaitis (baseball); and St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens (basketball).
Athlete most likely to play professionally
Kendall Stephens, St. Charles East -- basketball.
He never actually left but best of luck goes out to Sean Masoncup, who was named as St. Charles North's varsity girls basketball coach earlier this week. Masoncup, a Geneva grad, is the North Stars' varsity boys tennis coach and has served as the head sophomore boys basketball coach.
Tough to say goodbye
It won't quite be the same without a pair of familiar faces on the sideline -- St. Charles North girls basketball coach Colleen Backer and St. Charles North football coach Mark Gould.
Gould, the program's first head coach, announced his retirement after guiding the North Stars to a 63-56 record and 8 postseason appearances.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your summer.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.org