As Sam Sees It<br>

Let me start this column with a quick and very inadequate final salute to an old and dear friend. Paul Sweitzer lost his battle with cancer over the last week and Winslow and many of its residents lost a good friend. Paul wrote a in a straightforward and honest manner and had proven many times over the years that he was indeed a friend to Winslow and the Winslow High School sports programs in particular. He will be sorely missed.

The 1999-2000 school year provided us with many memorable moments in sports. Your list wouldn't be likely to be the same as mine, but you would probably enjoy compiling it just as much and reliving those memories.

The top event for me was Shadow Mountain High School's 5A boys basketball championship. (A team coached by my brother, of course.) The Matadors defeated Gilbert Highlands 79-53 in the championship game, but their 72-63 win over Corona del Sol on the Aztecs' home court and their 72-65 win over Salpointe at Tucson were even greater and less likely accomplishments.

Winslow's last second victory over Blue Ridge in the quarterfinals of the 3A boys state basketball tournament was a great comeback win for the Bulldogs and the key to their appearance in the state championship game. Tuba City's last few seconds win over the Bulldogs was disappointing for fans here, but a great high school basketball game.

A rare catcher to first to third triple play was the key to a Winslow softball victory over Window Rock in the Enchantment Region semi-finals. That play was made even more memorable for me as I was umpiring the bases when it happened. Unbelievably, the triple play followed a no-hit performance in Tuba City's win over Monument Valley. I was behind the plate for that one.

Tuba City's state 3A championships in both boys and girls basketball may be the best accomplishment by a 3A school. Of course, Winslow fans don't like to be reminded that it was the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs who finished second in both tournaments. (Come to think of it, second in the state is not an easy accomplishment in its own right. We should probably all learn to realize and appreciate that.)

The most memorable play of the year for me was at a professional baseball game. It was the only center-fielder to catcher to shortstop (covering third) triple play I have ever seen. (The only one in the Major Leagues of any variety.) The Arizona Diamondbacks turned it in against the St. Louis Cardinals.

When we talk about memorable seasons, we should not forget the accomplishments neighboring Joseph City High School. The Wildcats and Lady Wildcats claimed state crowns in football, volleyball and softball and were runners-up in girls basketball and wrestling.

Lady Wildcat pitcher Brooke Solomon is really something special. She tossed back to back no-hit shutouts in the semi-final and final games of the Arizona State 1A Softball Tournament. Opponents will not be happy to note that Solomon was only a freshman and that they will have her to contend with for three more years. In addition to being one of the top pitchers in the state, Solomon is a devastating hitter and an outstanding shortstop.

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