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FIELDER’S CHOICES: A top 10 list more fun than final exams

I finished my final exams, and I think I did pretty well. Not on the questions, but on the diagram of next year’s Division I and Division IA realignment I drew on the back of the Scantron.

I tried to draw Division II as well, but ran out of space. Apparently, so did the NIAA.

I also had a lot of time to reflect on the past year as I sat at my own private table and waited to sign yearbooks for all my classmates. Not many came to get my autograph. Probably because I tried to sign it on cardboard.

Here are my picks for the top 10 Southern Nevada high school sports stories of the year, from the good to the bad to the ugly.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think.

1. The NIAA tackles Bishop Gorman.

It seems like the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association wants Gorman officials to do one of two things: stop winning so much, or leave the state association.

That prompted Gorman’s legal counsel to start looking into things like the Sollenberger Classic.

I don’t know much about law. But I do know Gorman is pretty good, and good teams tend to win a lot. Still, can it last forever?

2. Coronado blossoms in the spring.

There was one school that kept showing up in the R-J in May, and it wasn’t located on Hualapai Way.

Coronado won state championships in boys golf and boys volleyball, and won region titles in baseball, softball and girls swimming.

And those rumors that the NIAA is asking the Cougars to switch to associate member status? False. Every last one of them.

For now.

3. Shabazz Muhamma-thon.

He was the best player in the country at his sport. He was regularly referred to like a Brazilian soccer player: by one name. He’s going to UCLA and will probably wind up playing in the NBA.

Gorman’s Shabazz Muhammad became the best known player in Nevada, and in the country. The 6-foot-6-inch swingman scored at will and led the Gaels to their third state title in four years.

He starred everywhere from regionals to state to exhibitions against the nation and the rest of the world.

If you saw him play, count yourself lucky.

4. Liberty football soars to new heights.

It wasn’t long ago that Liberty’s football program struggled to stay relevant in the Southeast League.

Now, the Patriots have won Sunrise Region titles two years in a row — and are one of the best teams in the state.

Kai Nacua, Jordan Kapeli and Niko Kapeli led a bruising offense last year. And two of them are back for another go this fall.

5. Madness in Reno.

Centennial’s girls basketball team looked like the best team in the state all year, beating opponents by … well, as many points as the Bulldogs wanted. Or the NIAA would let them.

But something crazy happened on the way to Reno.

In a stunning turn of events, Gigi Hascheff and Reno downed Centennial, 60-41 in the state semifinals. More surprising, the Bulldogs beat the Huskies twice during the regular season — by 26 and 22 points.

But there’s good news for the Centennial faithful: stars like Jada Brown, Breanna Workman and Tamera Williams will be back next year. And you can bet they’ll want revenge.

6. Hartle has heart.

If you’re into track and cross country (like Eric claims to be), you know the name Nick Hartle.

Hartle has been one of the most dominant runners in Nevada for four years, and is quickly becoming one of the top athletes in the nation. He ended his high school career at his best, winning four events at the state track meet to lead Centennial’s boys to their first team championship.

7. Legacy boys soccer repeats.

If there was any chance of the Longhorns’ 2010 state title being dubbed a fluke, 2011 erased any doubts.

Legacy better lock up coach Jose Gomez to a contract extension before he’s offered a better gig — like head coach at North Carolina.

8. Durrell McDonald returns.

The senior Green Valley boys basketball and track star spent a year in Mississippi, but he came back just in time for the Gators.

Spending a final year at Green Valley, the DePaul hoops signee led the Gators to the Sunrise Region title and a berth in the state tournament — then turned around and became one of the top high jumpers in the nation by clearing 7 feet.

9. Recruiting bonanza.

There have been loads of Division I talent this year, especially in football, basketball and girls soccer. But even the golfers, lacrosse players and gymnasts are getting into the act.

Only my college decision is lacking; I’m still in talks with ESPN about where to broadcast it.

10. Pahranagat Valley does it again — in everything.

Is there a sport Pahranagat Valley can’t dominate? Well, besides soccer. Or maybe tennis.

The Panthers have won Class 1A state titles in football, boys basketball and baseball for three straight years.

And we won’t even start on girls volleyball and girls basketball.

Alamo gets excited over these championships, too. I hear they throw each championship team a parade, complete with what might be the county’s only fire engine.

That’s a lot of mileage on the little red truck.

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FIELDER’S CHOICES: Getting stuffed for state semis

Four teams — Arbor View, Bishop Gorman, Damonte Ranch and Liberty — get to practice in the morning and then stuff their bellies with turkey, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie before the Class 4A state semifinals.

FIELDER’S CHOICES: No power ratings needed to call these winners

Three title games involving Southern Nevada teams are on the docket. Basic and Liberty meet in the Class 4A Sunrise Region title game Friday for the third straight season, and the Class 3A and Class 1A finals are Saturday afternoon.

FIELDER’S CHOICES: Is everything as it seems? Blame Mandela

We all remember Durango and Sierra Vista struggling in recent seasons, right? Now, both teams are undefeated entering Friday’s first-place showdown at Durango. The Mandela Effect is the only explanation. Just a glitch in the matrix.

FIELDER’S CHOICES: Naysayers, be quiet: Gorman deserves to win title

Maybe Bishop Gorman didn’t play the best team in California, or the best team in Florida, or the best team in Texas. But the Gaels played more good teams than anybody else, and that’s all that matters when it comes to prep football rankings.