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Top 5 Sports Stories of 2017

Two Harbors junior Carina Hebl (25) pushes past an International Falls player during a Section 7AA quarterfinals game March 4, 2017 at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth. (News-Chronicle file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)1 / 5
Two Harbors senior Katie Archer clears the ball in the Agates' 2-0 win over Hibbing-Chisholm. (News-Chronicle file photo by Jamey Malcomb)2 / 5
Two Harbors senior Stephanie Williams (23) sheds some tears after a season ending loss in the Section 7AA quarterfinals against Internationals Fall March 4, 2017 at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth. (News-Chronicle file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)3 / 5
Two Harbors sophomore Tori Bott shoots a free-throw during a Section 7AA quarterfinals game against International Falls Saturday, March 4 at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)4 / 5
Two Harbors junior Tori Bott has made her way back from back surgery at age 13 to become a three sport standout for the Agates. (News-Chronicle file photo by Jamey Malcomb)5 / 5

1. North Shore Storm girls coaching staff resigns

In May, the entire coaching staff for the North Shore Storm girls hockey team resigned. This included head coach Brian Entzion and assistants Biz Huss and Boyd Hanson.

Entzion's letter of resignation to William-Kelley Schools Activities Director Kelly Ollila detailed three main reasons for his resignation.

First, Entzion said parents were allowed to bypass coaches with complaints or concerns and undermine the coach and the program.

Second, Entzion claimed he was accused of malfeasance and misuse of team funds that were "brought to the district superintendent without any vetting of the validity of the claims nor having the propriety to address concerns with me first."

Third, Entzion said in a meeting with a player and parent that the player was allowed to "wander off-topic and become emotional" while assessing Entzion's coaching. The player was later commended by the administration for her conduct.

Neva Maxwell was hired as the new head coach in September.

2. Despite setbacks, Bott wouldn't trade sports 'for the world'

In June, Two Harbors junior Tori Bott traveled to Orlando, Fla., for an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) volleyball tournament, but she wasn't sure how the team would perform after an underwhelming performance at the team's last tournament in Wisconsin Dells.

The Minnesota North 16 White team sharpened its serve receives and passing at the national tournament and after coming in 18th at the much smaller Wisconsin tournament, they finished fifth of 128 teams at the Florida tournament.

More than three years ago, at the beginning of her eighth-grade basketball season, Tori herniated a disc in her back while lifting weights. Tori and her parents feared she may never play competitive sports again — a heartbreaking prospect for someone who is a major contributor on the Agate basketball and softball teams.

After surgery in January 2014, Tori started the painful and often grueling rehabilitation program that would eventually get her back strong enough to play volleyball, basketball and softball for the Agates.

"I wanted to cry because I couldn't bend over and I couldn't walk. I was just emotional all of the time," Tori said. "Sports are my getaway, and to not have it for nine months was just so hard for me."

When she was coming back from her surgery, some of her basketball teammates stepped in and helped her out.

3. Agates baseball welcomes new coach

For the first time in more than 30 years, Two Harbors started its baseball season without coach Rick Coughlin on the sidelines.

Coughlin, who coached the Agates since 1985, retired from the position after the season ended last spring.

New coach Jeff Adams hopes to provide a little continuity for Two Harbors after spending the past five seasons on the Agate bench as an assistant. Adams also played under Coughlin when he was a student at Two Harbors. He got some experience at the college level as a player for St. Scholastica in Duluth.

4. Agate girls basketball falls in playoffs

Two Harbors mounted a series of comebacks from double-digit deficits against International Falls, but time ran out on the Agates as they fell to the Broncos 55-42 in the quarterfinals of the Section 7AA tournament in March 4.

Two Harbors shot poorly to start the game, going 2-for-16 from the field.

The Agates mounted their first comeback, going on an 11-1 run fueled by 3-pointers from Alyssa Ruberg and Carina Hebl and five points from Tori Bott to tie the game at 17.

The Broncos, however, answered with their own 11-point run to end the half and take a 28-17 lead into the locker room.

Two Harbors made another run late in the second half, outscoring International Falls 20-4. Time ran out on the comeback, though, and Two Harbors was forced to start putting Bronco players on the free-throw line.

Two Harbors started the season 11-0 and finished 20-8 — the most wins for an Agate team since the 1990s.

5. Two Harbors senior takes dedication to next level

On a crisp, clear September day in 2016, Two Harbors soccer player Katie Archer took to the field early in the second half in what was already a chippy game against Apple Valley.

A defensive midfielder, Archer raced a player from Apple Valley toward the sideline to compete for a loose ball. The Apple Valley player gave Archer a short, quick shove, and Archer's knee twisted awkwardly as she fell.

The trainer at Two Harbors thought it was just a sprain, but when Archer tried to play the next two games, she couldn't plant or turn on her injured knee at all. After her parents, Deb and Brett Archer, took her to a specialist in Duluth, they learned she needed surgery for a torn ACL and meniscus in her knee.

Archer went in for surgery, costing her the rest of the soccer season, when the Agates finished in a bit of a tailspin, finishing the season losing five of their last six games.

Archer said the surgery and rehabilitation on her surgically repaired knee went well, but missing the basketball season was really tough on her.

True to her 100 percent moniker, Archer attended every game and practice, even though late in the basketball season, it changed the Archer family's plans for a vacation.