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Prep sports: Top 10 stories of 2011 (with photos)

Published December 28, 2011 5:38 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah high school sports garnered a lot of national attention in 2011. Two cross country teams made their mark at nationals, a girls' basketball team had 103-point blowout and people from all over rallied to help two injured athletes. Locally, a legendary coach made yet another move, a football program finally ended its snake-bitten ways and one quarterback's star arose.

Read more of what we think are the best high school sports stories of the year below.

10. Davis, American Fork place well at nationals

Utah is quickly getting to be known as a hotbed for great cross country athletes. The Darts finished third and the Cavemen finished sixth as the state's high school teams represented well at nationals.

9. Utah basketball rises in prominence

From Utah Pump-N-Run's solid showing at the Las Vegas Super 64 to Lone Peak's national ranking and 5A championship boosted by a number of future BYU players, it was a banner year in basketball for the state.

8. Hurricane rises

Hurricane overcame three years of frustration to finally win a Class 3A football championship. The Tigers defeated Region 9 rival Desert Hills 21-0 in a snowy game at Rio Tinto to claim its first 11-man championship.

7. Christian Heritage beats West Ridge Academy 108-3

When the Christian Heritage girls' basketball team blew out West Ridge Academy by 105 points, the nation took notice. The game was embarrassing to both programs, but they made it up in a 62-7 rematch that went much more smoothly.

6. Les Hamilton fishes for right job

In a whirlwind year, Alta coach Les Hamilton moved to Chile, hunted giant squid, returned to Utah to coach at Hunter. He led the Wolverines to a 3-7 season, then resigned to take a job as the head coach at Pleasant Grove to be closer to his Utah County home.

5. Junior slugger Kayden Porter impresses in minor league home run derby

Kayden Porter, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound junior from Spanish Fork, was able to hang with the pros in the 2011 Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby, finishing second while wowing the hometown crowd with 18 total homers.

4. New regions take shape

The UHSAA realigns, reuniting many rivals (Skyline and Olympus) and breaking up others. All of Southern Utah is in one 3A region (which dominated football) and other schools were dissatisfied with their travel schedules.

3. Chase Hansen is a star

Perhaps the biggest individual star in high school sports this year, Hansen led Lone Peak to a 5A football championship, while becoming the face of the future of University of Utah football. A quarterback who transferred from American Fork between his sophomore and junior years, Hansen will go on an LDS Mission after his freshman year.

2. Communities rise to help Dale Lawrence and Porter Hancock

After wrestler Dale Lawrence and football player Porter Hancock each suffered paralyzing injuries in separate incidents, people around Utah poured out support and money for their families. The funds raised by the friends, family and even strangers helped pay for medical expenses and new homes for the young men.

1. Basketball transfers take center stage

The UHSAA's transfer rule comes under scrutiny after Eric Mika left Waterford for Lone Peak, Deng Deng transferred to Cottonwood, Austin Clark traveled north to south in Sevier County. Concerns abound among coaches that transfers in general were shifting the balance of power in prep hoops.

— Bill Oram and Kyle Goon