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Cooper: The top high school sports stories of the year

 Saddle River Day and Newtown formed a bond after a massacre shocked America.
Rob Kaminsky, right, learned that hard work pays off.

The 2012-13 high school sports season can be summed up in one hyphenated word: Big-Time.

These stories were the biggest. Traditionally, a list like this has 10 stories, but this one needs 12. High school sports in America and in North Jersey are getting bigger and better. It’s only right to expand the list and reflect back on what we were thinking when it happened, and how the event looks now.

12. Pompton Lakes wins second straight North 1, Group 1 football title.

What we thought then: The Hail Mary pass to beat Saddle Brook in the sectional semifinals, aka “Hail Foote” (Robbie Meyers to Daniel Foote), ranks up there as one of the most exciting finishes in this decade. Winning the state title was fait accompli.

What we think now: The Cardinals’ 19-game winning streak is the longest active streak in North Jersey, and all the more impressive because it comes at the Group 1 level.

11. Don Bosco lacrosse team reaches TOC final.

What we thought then: The Ironmen have stamped themselves as a formidable lacrosse powerhouse in New Jersey.

What we think now: All those people wondering if Don Bosco was having a down year because it failed to win a state football title and struggled in baseball should note the school’s successes in wrestling (two state champs), ice hockey, lacrosse and track.

10. IHA becomes the second team to win three straight Bergen softball titles.

What we thought then: Even in the Blue Eagles’ storied history, this is an unprecedented run of success, and they were rarely challenged in the county tournament, winning their games by a combined score of 41-1.

What we think now: IHA will be favored to be the first team to win four straight county titles in 2014.

9. Freshman Jordan Thomas makes half-court shot at the buzzer in overtime to give DePaul the Passaic County boys basketball title.

What we thought then: Holy smoke.

What we think now: Thomas’ shot, whimsically dubbed “A Fling and a Prayer,” was the most amazing event of the season. It officially signaled DePaul’s rise as the basketball powerhouse in Passaic County.

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