New Year's Day 2012 had come and gone only a few days before Northview coach Jerry Sigler reached another coaching milestone in an illustrious career that spans nearly four decades.
The Wildcats knocked off Sylvania rival Southview on Jan. 6 to give Sigler his 650th victory.
While there had been other significant milestone wins, none may have been more meaningful for Sigler, who had been diagnosed last April with prostate cancer.
Sigler, who is in his 36th season of coaching, underwent surgery in September to have the cancer removed. Admittedly, the situation has been a life-altering experience.
One of the winningest coaches in Ohio high school history, he recovered from the surgery and was determined to continue coaching this season. Spending time with family and friends, particularly, his wife, Karen, whom he credits with helping him through the entire situation, are cherished moments.
"I appreciate life much more," said the 66-year-old Sigler. "I appreciate I'm able to coach and they're letting me coach.
"But sometimes even with coaching you have to sit back and say, 'You know what, this is important, but it really ain't that important.' "
Spending time in his element as a basketball coach has not lost any of its luster.
"I still enjoy coaching, and I enjoy coming into the gym," he said. "I feel very fortunate that I'm able to do that now after what's happened.
"I can't say it's relaxing, but it gets your mind off of other things that are going on. The players come in and they're all fired up and are ready to go. I could be tired, or whatever, and they still want to go, and they want to practice.
"They still get upset if you get after them, but they love to win. I would miss it."
Sigler told the team about his situation at the time he had the surgery. Jessica Jessing, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, said the seniors were informed first.
The co-captain said the information caught the players off guard and initially they weren't sure about what would happen this season.
"It was a surprise to all of us," said Jessing. "It was sad because we didn't expect it."
Sigler eventually realized after the surgery that he would have the strength and the desire to resume coaching the Wildcats, who entered the season as favorites to win the Northern Lakes League. It's a group that also believes it can make a significant run in the tournament.
The Wildcats (13-1 overall, 8-0 NLL) are a guided by one of the area's top 1-2 scoring tandems.
Seniors Miriam Justinger, a 6-foot guard, and Jessing are a talented duo determined to lead the Wildcats past the Division I district final, which is the furthest they have advanced in the last three seasons.
Justinger, who has signed to play at Kent State, leads the Wildcats in scoring at 19.7 points per game. Jessing, who will play at Western Michigan, has provided 13.8 points per game and a team-leading 8.6 rebounds per contest.
"We have the depth, and we have to keep working hard," Justinger said. "It would be a disappointment if we don't win the NLL. Obviously, we're trying to go for the three-peat.
"If we don't go far in the tournament that would be a disappointment, because we know we have so much talent."
However, the Wildcats have proven all season there is strong help for Justinger and Jessing.
Skylar Rose, a 5-9 senior guard, contributes 9.9 points per game.
"I think I've had to step up this year because I'm a senior," Rose said. "We all work really well together and we have good chemistry."
Talented freshman Kendall McCoy, a 6-foot forward, contributes offensively and defensively in a major way. McCoy ranks third on the team in scoring (12.5) and rebounding (4.5).
Maddie Cole, a 6-1 freshman, has also been a contributor, including 11 points in the win that gave Sigler his 650th victory.
Northview enters the second half of NLL play with at least a two-game lead over the rest of the league and is focused on claiming a three-peat as champions.
"I think we're a lot better this year," Jessing said. "We're more aggressive and we're more determined on defense and willing to run the floor. There's a lot more hustle overall."
And it starts with the coach.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @demmonsblade