Incredible finishes, dominating performances, outstanding individual achievements, improbable upsets. Covering boys lacrosse, boys basketball, and boys and girls soccer was a special treat that brought plenty of those things in a memorable 2013.
In Part One of my 2013 recap, here's a look at some of the best season-long performances of 2013:
Most resilient teams
Sparrows Point's girls soccer team
Since 1999, Sparrows Point had made nine trips to the state tournament and made four championship games. What would be different in the fifth title game in 2013?
An overwhelming will to win.
The Pointers outplayed Smithsburg in the first half, but had nothing to show for their work with the game scoreless at the break. And then, with 31 minutes toplay, Smithsburg scored the game's first goal.
It could have been easy for the Pointers to think, once again, it wouldn't be their day as time got closer and closer to expiring.
Instead, they persevered. Sophomore Lindsea Webb tied the game with seven minutes left and then freshman Kasie Lambert scored with 2:16 to play. Minutes later was unrivaled jubiliation as the Pointers were state champs for the first time.
Edmondson boys basketball team
In recent years, the Red Storm have consistently been one of the finest boys basketball teams in the area, only to fall short in the playoffs because another team in its region was a tad better on a given day.
After four straight heartbreaking losses in the demanding Class 2A North region, the Red Storm finally broke through to reach the state tournament. Edmondson didn't disappoint, bringing home the program's first state championship with a thrilling 56-54 win over Wicomico.
Most impressive postseason run
Loyola lacrosse team claims improbable MIAA A Conference championship
The Dons were in the locker room following a 12-5 loss to Calvert Hall in the team's regular season finale believing they had played their final game together. Shortly after, the team learned Mount St. Joseph had upset St. Mary's in overtime to give the Dons the sixth and final seed. They ran with it.
Loyola upset third-seeded Gilman, 17-13, in the quarterfinals. Then the Dons routed second-seeded McDonogh, 13-4, in the semifinals.
Next up was No. 1 and undefeated Boys' Latin in the title game. Overcoming a six-goal deficit behind the fine play of senior attackman Devin McNamara, the Dons were able to pull off a miraculous 10-9 upset win for the program's 12th league crown.
Most dominant team
The McDonogh boys soccer team
The MIAA A Conference regularly produces Division I college talent and is one of the most respected leagues in the country.
This season, the No. 1 Eagles owned it.
Led by All-Metro Player of the Year, George Campbell, and All-Metro first team pick Connor Smith -- both All-Americans -- McDonogh enjoyed its first unbeaten season by going 21-0-1 to claim the program's seventh league championship.
Just how dominant were the Eagles? In 22 games, they outscored their opponents by a 64-8 margin and posted 16 shutouts.
Most impressive program runs
The Dunbar boys basketball team
Long before joining the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association in the 1992-93 school year, Dunbar had established itself as one of the finest boys basketball programs in the country with 20 Maryland Scholastic Association championships.
Despite the later start in the MPSSAA, the Poets had little problem making up for lost time. With their 54-52 win over New Town in last season's Class 1A state championship game, the Poets added to the program's fine legacy by setting a new state mark with 15 state titles. It was the fourth straight crown for the Poets, who went into the season tied with Allegany for most titles.
The Hereford boys lacrosse team
The 2013 senior class at Hereford became the third straight to win four straight state championships when the Bulls came away with a 13-3 win over Glenelg in the Class 3A-2A state championship in May.
The Bulls established a new state record with their ninth championship and padded their record of consecutive titles, now at six.
Hereford's consistent success starts with an incredible feeder program that has youngsters champing at the bit to one day become a Bull. It continues with a day-by-day approach and grinding practices.
While other public schools may lose some of their top talent to the private schools, Hereford is able to keep their players in the program and have actually had private school players come aboard.
Most outstanding team not to win a championship
Boys' Latin lacrosse team
One of the area's most storied boys lacrosse programs was on the verge of history -- a season that would have been one for the ages.
The No. 1 Lakers were 20-0 and one win away from their sixth Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship and third perfect season.
In the championship game against underdog Loyola, the Lakers built a six-goal advantage and appeared on their way to what could be easily argued the greatest lacrosse season in the powerhouse conference's history.
Instead, the scrappy Dons didn't back down, coming from behind for an absolutely stunning 10-9 victory.