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Seeing Drury's Scott McGuire pour in 52 points in a monster win over Monument Mountain was sportswriter Jake Mendel's top story of 2020.

A week-by-week and day-by-day mentality works wonders in the sports world. Each cliché used by coaches when speaking to media is often overlooked, but they were good guidelines when trying to maneuver through 2020.    

As I've heard on more than one occasion: "you can only worry about what you control," a needed reminder throughout a pandemic-riddled year. 

The changing of the calendar doesn't mean much in the big picture, it is a good time to take a step back and refresh. 

2020 was a challenging year, but like any challenge, there was plenty to take away. Berkshire County showed grit over the last 12 months. While people were forced to socially distance, sports (safely), were somehow still a way for us to ignore our issues and come together. 

There are no days off — even in a pandemic. An unusual year calls for an unusual countdown. Here are my top six stories from 2020. 

6. There is always a bigger fish — and a bigger pool

The sport of swimming seems pretty simple, unless you've been on the deck for a packed swim meet. There is a certain energy that radiates off the walls during a swim meet. It could be the competition or it could be the fact that noise bounces from one side of the room to the other, but it is probably a mixture of the two. 

Swimming is a sport for those who crave the big stage, much like Monument Mountain's Asa Stone. The energy of the Western/Central Mass. swim meet helped the Spartans carve the competition as personal bests were topped time and time again. 

Stone earned two gold medals for the Spartans on Feb. 9 and it is likely that ears are still ringing from the atmosphere created at Springfield College. 

5. Hoosac Valley stuns Wahconah en route to co-state championship

Sports wouldn't be the same without a bit of unpredictability. The Wahconah Warriors powered through all of their competition in order to reach the Western Mass. D-III championship game against the Hurricanes, who were defending state champions. 

The Hurricanes stunned the top-seeded Warriors with a 43-30 victory. It was a combination of wrong place and wrong time for the Warriors, who were held to just three points in the first half. 

The Hurricanes were certainly known for their defense and it played a role, but this game also featured possessions for Wahconah where the ball just couldn't find the bottom of the net. 

There were some bounces that didn't go Wahconah's way, but the Hoosac Valley girls deserve plenty of credit for taking advantage of the opportunity. Averie McGrath canned three shots from deep, finishing with a 11 points. Meanwhile, Annie Canales and Sarah Field each had two 3-pointers to keep Hoosac's offense rolling. 

The Hurricanes proved that the game wasn't a fluke as they defended their crown as state champions and earned the title of co-state champions. While the run was impressive, this unpredictable game certainly stands out as a top story of 2020. 

4. There is no replacement for hard work

Nobody knew when team sports would return in 2020. Local hoopers were unsure when tip-off was, but made sure to stay ready for when that time would come. 

Jarmal Sistrunk started to take his son to Clapp Park to engage in a training program that focuses on leg muscles. What started as a family exercise turned into a city-wide workout

Sistrunk would arrive to the park where up to dozen kids were ready to get to work. With a strong work ethic on display, the athletes focused on the best ability one could develop — availability. 

3. Braves fill trophy case 

The 2019 edition of the Taconic girls basketball team gave a glimpse of what this unit was capable of with its mix of veteran leadership and talented youngsters who could ball with the county's best. 

The Braves in 2020 realized that full potential, with Taea Bramer at the helm, Ciany Conyers and Ahliya Phillips scoring at will and the ideal spark plugs in Kendra Buda, Faith Cross and Tamia Patrick. 

Taconic entered the season without a state championship and a 17-year run without a Western Mass. title. They flipped the switch with an 18-game winning streak and each night someone else was the story. 

The team featured plenty of talent, but coach Matt Mickle effectively got the most out of his crew, dropping just two games on the year. Whether it was Bramer guiding the team through bumpy stretches or Conyers and Phillips taking turns ripping defenses to shreds, the Braves were headline news in 2020. 

2. Teamwork makes the dream work

After the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic had left, Berkshire County was left wondering if sports could safely be played. Before we know it, different diamonds across the county were suddenly filled with kids participating in sports. 

Coaches, directors and administrators spent the spring and summer months working their tails off and jumping through hoops in order to create a safe environment for kids to escape quarantine, even for just a few hours. 

1. No stopping Scott

Drury Coach Jack Racette has had a few players who had the opportunity to capture the Drury record for points in a game, but said he would never leave a player in just to get a record. If a player was going to secure the record, it was going to be in a close game. 

Senior Scott McGuire had already solidified himself as one of Berkshire County's most lethal scorers, but no one inside the Drury High School gym, including myself, was prepared for the game between the Blue Devils and Spartans of Monument Mountain on Jan. 23. 

Not only did McGuire become Drury's all-time leading scorer with an impressive finish at the basket, good for an and-one, but he finished with 52 points, another school record. 

The Blue Devils entered the game with a .500 record and had a matchup against Dion Brown, one of the best ballers Berkshire County had to offer. 

McGuire was on fire from the opening touch, scoring 18 of the team's 22 points in the first quarter. While I know what was at stake and the players involved, I never would've imagined what this game had in store. 

Brown had an impressive performance with 32 points to keep the Spartans in the game, but McGuire was simply unstoppable. The high-scoring affair ended with Drury winning 90-87, which is rarely, if ever, seen on the high school stage. 

If I knew what this game had in store, I probably would've brought a dozen cameras as history was made in North Adams. The tale of McGuire and the story of this game, is going to live on in Berkshire County lore for years to come. 

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-464-3655.

Sports Reporter

As a lifelong Pittsfield resident, Jake gravitates to the nearest field or park. He joined The Eagle as a paperboy in 2005 and worked his way up, becoming a full-time reporter in 2018. He's currently a sports reporter.