■ Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a 10-part series looking back at the top stories of the decade in the Longview News-Journal’s coverage area.
After losing their first two district games in the 2016 season, the Carthage Bulldogs did what the Carthage Bulldogs do.
They won, and didn’t stop winning until they were on the top of the hill for the fifth time in 10 seasons under Scott Surratt.
Carthage fell to district rivals Henderson and Kilgore to open District 9-4A Division I play, but managed to qualify for the playoffs as the third-place team in the league — eventually earning a trip to the state title game with a three overtime win against China Spring.
The Bulldogs fell behind 14-0 to Abilene Wylie in the championship game, but rallied for a 31-17 win.
Other top stories from 2016 included:
■ 2. A legend steps down. Ron Boyett roamed the basketball sidelines at White Oak for 25 seasons, winning a couple of state titles and compiling a 539-242 record before stepping down at the conclusion of the season.
Boyett, a 1984 White Oak graduate, won 10 district titles and had a 209-77 record in league play.
■ 3. Fillies dance. Panola College just missed out on a trip to the NJCAA National Volleyball Tournament in 2015, but made it happen a year later. The Fillies entered the national tournament with a 33-2 record and the nation’s No. 1 ranking, but finished seventh overall after defeating Hill College, falling to Santa Fe and Salt Lake and then defeating Western Nebraska.
■ 4. Successful pros. Former Lobos Chris Davis, Trent Williams and Chris Ivory continued to have solid professional careers in Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
Davis signed the richest contract in the history of the Baltimore Orioles franchise, and went on to club 38 home runs and drive in 84 runs in 2016.
Ivory signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Williams — a high school teammate of Ivory’s — was named to his fifth straight Pro Bowl.
■ 5. Coaches on the move. Big Sandy’s Lovie Smith was fired by the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was quickly hired by the University of Illinois.
Hallsville softball coach Pat Eitel resigned after 11 seasons and with a 315-79-9 record. He accepted a similar position at Forney High School, and took that team to the state tournament.
Pine Tree football coach David Collins resigned and moved on to Richardson Pearce, and was replaced by Kerry Lane at Pine Tree.
■ 6. Double the pleasure. The boys and girls soccer teams at Kilgore High School both advanced to the UIL State Tournament in Georgetown. The boys finished 19-2-7, losing in the state semifinals to Palestine. The girls, meanwhile, finished 22-6-2 after falling to Kennedale in the state semifinals.
■ 7. LeTourneau hoops. For the first time in school history, the LeTourneau men and women advanced to the American Southwest Conference basketball tournament.
■ 8. Musick gets win No. 700. Carolee Musick notched her 700th career win as a volleyball coach when Pine Tree clinched a playoff spot with a four-set victory over Mount Pleasant on Oct. 24.
■ 9. National champ. Former White Oak standout Whitney Simmons, competing for UT Tyler, won the NCAA Division III national championship in the hammer throw in Wverly, Iowa. Simmons set a national record with a winning toss of 59.19 meters.
■ 10. Avinger hoops. Treston Dowell, who won a state title at Avinger as a player in 1996, led the Indians back to the top as a coach. The Indians finished the year with a 35-2 record, defeating Grady 50-36 in the championship game. Three months later, Dowell, who was 88-10 at Avinger, resigned and became the head basketball coach at Jefferson.