Top 5 Sports Stories of 2016

Published 3:15 pm Friday, December 30, 2016

1. Sports Editor Joe Crine retires after 46 years

For 46 years Joe Crine served as the sports editor at The Post-Searchlight. After a long, illustrious career, he decided to retire in 2016.

Joe Crine has covered multiple generations of athletes throughout Bainbridge and Decatur County. For many local athletes he is the only reporter they have ever known. His impact was so much greater, though. He covered Lions Club, JROTC, the band and countless other events throughout the city and county.

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Joe got his start by pestering Sam Griffin into giving him a job, which turned out to be one of the best things Griffin ever did. Mary Ann Griffin added that “(the Griffins) loved him like family.”

Band Director Paschal Ward added that the Bainbridge Band loved Crine as well.

They even named an award in Joe’s honor, an award that goes to a student that shows great character and integrity.
Bainbridge High School Athletic Director Stan Killough said Joe served as an encourager for the coaches in Bainbridge.
“He always encouraged you as a coach. You always felt better after you talked to Joe.. When I talked to Joe after a tough loss, he was always that guy to encourage me.” Said Killough.

The Post-Searchlight is not the same without Joe Crine, but he is still synonymous with the paper and sports in Bainbridge.

2. Bainbridge baseball celebrates best record ever

The Bainbridge baseball team had a historic 2016 season, going 21-9 and making it past the first round of the state playoffs for the first time ever.

The entire season was a race among the other Region 1-AAAA teams to claim one of the top four spots and lock in a berth to the State Playoffs.

Bainbridge finished 14-6 behind Thomas County Central (20-0 Region 1-AAAA) and Cairo (16-4 Region 1-AAAA).

Big wins over Crisp County and Worth County propelled the Bearcats to the top of the region standings and earned the team a trip to the first round of the state playoffs.

3. Bainbridge High School wins Region All-Sports trophy

Bainbridge High School dominated five different sports during the 2015-16 school year, earning it the 2016 Region All-Sports award.

Six teams captured Region 1-AAAA championships. This was the third year Bainbridge has won the trophy. The previous two years were 1974 and 2009.

The football team, boys’ cross-country, the boys’ and girls’ swimming teams, the boys’ golf team and the boys’ tennis team each won a region championship.

“We’ve won a lot of region championships, but the thing is that you might have a sport or two that for one reason or another doesn’t contribute points,” Killough said. “This year everybody was able to contribute some points.”

The Bearcats also receiving strong contributions were the girls’ cross-county and tennis teams and the boys’ basketball team, who all finished as region runner-up.

4. Pierce commits to play for Crimson Tide

Bainbridge running back Dameon Pierce verbally committed to Alabama in July, leaving the 17 other schools recruiting him disappointed.

Pierce was a rising junior at the time, and the No. 3 running back in the country for the class of 2018 according to the 247Sports composite ranking. A four-star running back listed at 5-feet-11-inches and 205 pounds, he said playing for the Crimson Tide felt like the perfect fit.

Pierce said he has been going to Tuscaloosa for camps the past three years and has built relationships with Alabama coaches during that time.

Andrew Bone, recruiting reporter for Tide Sports, called Pierce a strong, physical running back that fits the mold of backs recruited by Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Bone added that de-commitments and flips seem to happen very often for players that commit early however.

Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton was surprised to hear Pierce share earlier last week that he was making the decision to commit to Alabama, but is excited for his player.

The commitments may not end with Pierce though. Littleton said he hopes other Bainbridge players might get a look from schools that were initially interested in Pierce.

Pierce, Littleton and the Bainbridge Bearcats went on to advance to the second round of the playoffs for 2016.

5. Bainbridge hires new basketball coach

Bainbridge High School basketball coach Rickey McCullough has announced his retirement over the past year after ten years heading the program.

Following McCullough’s announcement, a six person committee that included Killough and Dr. Larry Clark was formed to hire a new basketball coach. They interviewed seven candidates for the position.

At the April 21 Board of Education meeting it was officially announced that Terry Smith, who was the head basketball coach at Peach County High in Fort Valley, Georgia, was the choice.

Coach Smith said that the Bainbridge job is one that he has looked at for years and that it is a place he has long desired to coach.

“I’ve always been interested in the job in Bainbridge,” Smith said. “The school, the facilities, they’ve always had athletes. Its pretty much a one horse town where pretty much the whole community gets behind not just the school, but also from an athletic standpoint.”

Killough said that Smith will likely help coach football at a sub-varsity level along with his duties coaching basketball.
“We hired a basketball coach that wants to coach football,” Killough said.

He said the reason Smith wants to coach football is to show solidarity with players who play multiple sports.