Burbank top 10

Burbank High's James Williams helped lead the Bulldogs to one of their most successful seasons of the last century. (Raul Roa/File Photo)

Throughout the past year, the local community experienced its share of important, interesting and significant sports stories. Some of the stories enlightened us, some informed us and others just entertained us.

Although many of the stories deserve recognition, a select few stood out among the others.

Chosen by the Leader, here is a list of the top 10 sports stories of 2013.

1 Burbank football team rolls to CIF-SS semifinals: The Bulldogs were able to accomplish something that no other team in the program has been able do for more than 80 years.

Led by an accomplished running back and an efficient quarterback, Burbank advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division semifinals in November for the first time since 1927.

Burbank enjoyed a successful season under coach Hector Valencia, as the Bulldogs went 10-3 — 5-2 in the Pacific League — and notched two victories in the playoffs. Burbank saw its season end with a 28-21 loss to La Serna.

The Bulldogs opened the postseason with a 49-14 win against Mayfair and then earned a 42-0 victory against Santa Fe in the quarterfinals.

Burbank was paced by junior running back James Williams. The Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year, Williams finished the season with a school-record 22 rushing touchdowns in 164 carries. His 1,469 yards (nine yards a carry) were good enough for second on the all-time school list. Williams also had 22 catches for 482 yards (21.9 yards a catch) and five touchdowns and had 2,307 all-purpose yards and scored 176 points (third all-time in program history).

The team also received a fine effort from junior quarterback Ryan Meredith. He set a school record for touchdown passes in a season with 29 and had just two interceptions. He also completed 128 of 226 passes for 2,320 yards to break another season school record. In addition, he had 73 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

2 Marcus LoVett Jr. leaves Providence boys’ basketball team: The talented athlete was one of the most highly touted players in the nation and he proved that with an outstanding freshman season for the Pioneers in 2012.

However, the sharp-shooting guard never finished out his sophomore season with Providence, leaving the team and the school during the 2012-13 campaign. It was never specified why LoVett ultimately left the school.

As a freshman, LoVett put up monster numbers, broke several Pioneers school records, paced Providence to its first-ever CIF Southern Section championship game, led the state in scoring and earned national recognition.

As well as being named the Southern Section Division V-A Player of the Year, he was also the Liberty League Player of the Year. He averaged 31.7 points a game, which was best in the nation among freshmen according to MaxPreps.com. In addition, he poured in 1,035 points — breaking a school record — and put up 35.8 points a game in the playoffs.

In addition, he was an All-State honoree as well as being named the Burbank Leader Male Athlete of the Year.

However, LoVett missed some games last season after being sidelined due to a reaction to an insect bite. He returned briefly, only to leave the program completely. With his departure from the squad, the Pioneers struggled. Providence placed fourth in the Liberty League and ended the season 10-17.

3 Bell-Jeff softball team wins CIF championship: It was redemption for the Guards in 2013, who won the Division VI crown after losing in the Division VII title game the previous two seasons.

After winning their fourth straight Santa Cruz League championship, the success carried over into the playoffs. The Guards capped their season June 1 by defeating Mary Star of the Sea, 8-4, in the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine and capturing the program’s first title.

It was the first championship at the school in four years across all sports. It was also only the third crown in school history (the previous two coming in girls' basketball).

Leading the way was senior shortstop Monique Landini, who was named the Division VI Player of the Year,