It's not too late to make this list, but it'll be tough for any Minnesota athlete to outperform the 10 best single-game performances of 2016.
From 3-homer games by Brian Dozier and Max Kepler to hat tricks and shutouts by Zach Parise and Devan Dubnyk, these are the 10 best single-game performances by Minnesota stars in 2016.
10. Brian Dozier tees off on the Royals
The best second baseman in 2016 had a huge day Sept. 5 against the Royals, going 3-5 with 3 home runs and 4 RBIs. Sadly, the Twins lost 11-5.
9. Zach Parise torches the Flames
We have to go back to the end of the 2015-16 season for this one, but on Mar. 24 Zach Parise put up a rare 4-point game for the Wild with a hat trick and an assist in a 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames. His outburst came in the midst of a six-game win streak that helped push the Wild into the playoffs.
8. Andrew Wiggins lights up the Lakers
The Lakers were sort of the talk of the NBA at the time, winning six of their first 10 games only to get buzz sawed by the Wolves 125-99. Wiggins set a career-high with 47 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He made 17 of a career-best 22 free throws.
7. Shabazz Muhammad shocks the Warriors
Out of nowhere came Shabazz Muhammad near the end of the Wolves' 2015-16 season. His 35 points and 6 rebounds helped the Wolves shock the record-searching Golden State Warriors in Oakland, 124-117 on Mar. 5. He came off the bench to shoot 9 of 12 from the floor and 12 of 15 at the line. It was Golden State's second and last home loss of the regular season and it kept them stuck on 69 wins for another night.
6. Sarah Wilhite leads comeback over No. 1 Nebraska
The national player of the year in college volleyball led the No. 2 Gophers to a comeback win over No. 1 Nebraska on Nov. 23. She racked up 19 kills and a career-high 23 digs to lead Minnesota back from a 2-0 deficit. The Gophers went all the way to the Final Four before losing to eventual national champion Stanford.
5. Max Kepler unloads on the Indians
The rookie outfielder showed no mercy to Cleveland pitchers on Aug. 1, smashing three 2-run homers to become the first Twin with a 3-homer game since Justin Morneau in 2007. He had a chance at a fourth homer but settled for a single in the ninth inning. The crazy thing about Kepler's game is that you can actually argue that it might not have been his best. He homered twice and drove in seven runs against Texas on July 2.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns in Madison Square Garden
On Nov. 30 in a 106-104 loss to the Knicks, Towns became the third-youngest player with at least 45 points and 15 rebounds in a game in the last 30 years. Towns scored 22 points in the first quarter – two shy of Chauncey Billups' franchise record – and finished the night with 47 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocks. He was 17 of 20 at the free-throw line.
3. Maya Moore's Game 4
The Lynx were in a must-win situation in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals: win or watch the L.A. Sparks celebrate a title. Maya Moore didn't let that happen, dominating her way to 31 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in Minnesota's 85-79 win. She made 11 of 12 free throws.
“If we were going down, we were going down fighting,” Moore said after the game.
2. Adam Thielen's Lambeau Leap
The only thing that could have made Adam Thielen's Christmas Eve better would have been a win to keep the Vikings' playoff hopes alive, but he had to settle for a career day at Lambeau Field. The Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, native killed the Packers with 12 catches for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 71-yard score – the longest for Minnesota's offense this season.
1. Rachel Banham goes down in history
The obvious No. 1 performance of 2016 belongs to Gopher great Rachel Banham. On Feb. 8, with the Gophers fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Banham put the U of M on her back with an NCAA record-tying 60 points to lead the Gophers over Northwestern in double overtime.
It was such a tremendous performance that even her idol, Kobe Bryant, took notice. And Kobe didn't stop paying attention, commenting a week later that she has "mamba blood" after she hit a game-winning buzzer beater against Iowa.