|Lady Cats looking for regional berth; Wildcats catching up|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
March 28, 2006 - PARIS - Surveying the scorecards at the end of the first round of the District 12-4A golf tournament Monday, neither the SSHS boys nor girls were satisfied with their scores.
Neither were they satisfied with their places.
The Lady Cats appear well on their way to another regional berth, though they are nine strokes back of North Lamar if they want to retain the district championship.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, found themselves in sixth place and needing to make up 15 strokes on second-place North Lamar over the next 36 holes to qualify for regional.
Conditions were favorable - cool and breezy - for good rounds at Paris Golf and Country Club, but neither SSHS No. 1 team took advantage.
The good news for Sulphur Springs is that there are still two more rounds to be played. The girls play Wright Park in Greenville next Tuesday, while the boys will return to Web Hill on Thursday. Then, on April 10, all teams will play at the New Boston course.
The Wildcats started the tournament strong and were leading after seven holes, but as a team they played the eighth hole at eight-over par to fall behind Texas High at the turn. Then, they played the final four holes on the back nine at 19-over as a team to drop into sixth place.
The Wildcats finished with a 334 team score to fall behind the favorite, Texas High No. 1 squad, which shot a 302. North Lamar's No. 1, playing its home course, came in at 319, followed by Mount Pleasant No. 1 at 328, Greenville at 331 and North Lamar No. 2 at 332.
With no realistic chance to catch Texas High, the Wildcats must set their sights on North Lamar for the runner-up spot and the final regional qualifier.
"I really expected us to be somewhere between 305 and 315 after the way we have played the last four rounds of tournament play," said SSHS head coach Doug Evans. "But after we didn't get that done, we feel fortunate that we have 36 more holes to go and hopefully we can pull it off.
"We definitely are not going to panic, but there does need to be a sense of urgency as we prepare for the next two rounds."
Junior Dustin Gideon turned in the best SSHS score with an 81. After shooting five-over on the front nine, he was one-under on the back nine until he had to take a quadruple bogey on No. 14 when his ball plugged into a deep bunker.
He is tied for eighth individually, as Texas High's Zack Fisher turned in the first round's best score of 70.
Senior Seth Northcutt and freshman Joe Ross both shot an 84, while Sam Dolan came in with an 85, and Chase Helm carded an 88.
"We met after the tournament was over," Evans related. "The guys said, 'Coach, it wasn't about hitting the ball. We're hitting the ball fine. We just didn't get it done.'
"To a man, they said, 'We just played bad.' Unfortunately, that happens, and it just happened on the wrong day."
Despite the setback, the Wildcats return to Web Hill on Thursday, the same place where they beat all of the district teams except Texas High last week. They were nine strokes better than North Lamar on that day. If they can duplicate that, they'll be in the thick of things for the final round.
"We've still got 36 holes to get the job done, and we're pretty confident we're still going to get it done," Evans said. "It's going to be a pretty tough ordeal being 15 strokes back, but we've beaten all of these teams at Web Hill by quite a few strokes, so we've got to get that done next week. We don't have to make it all up next week, but we probably need to make up half of it."
The SSHS No. 2 squad, made up of Robby Moore, Rob Russell, Hesston Taylor, Lane McClung and Price Orwosky, turned in a cumulative score of 384. That puts them in ninth out of 11 teams.
The SSHS girls are in no real danger of not qualifying for regional. The top two teams go, and the Lady Cats' score of 411 is 90 strokes better than third-place Greenville.
But, the Lady Cats' focus is on retaining the 12-4A championship, and after the first round they trail North Lamar, which turned in a 402 on its home course.
Nine strokes back isn't much to make up with 36 holes to play, but SSHS head coach Rahn Smith lamented the fact that the Lady Cats didn't play their best. In fact, the 411 was their highest score this season.
None of the varsity quintet shot their tournament averages.
"We didn't play as well as we are capable," Smith said. "If we get down and shoot what we've been averaging for the year, I think we'll easily win. But, we've got to play with a little bit more confidence and get back to what we've been doing earlier on tougher golf courses.
"A lot of it was mental, and we've got to make some corrections and we'll be fine, I think."
Only two girls shot under 100 on Monday. North Lamar's Allison Felty carded a 94 and SSHS junior Whitney McDaniel came in with a 98. Two other SSHS golfers, junior Kylie Littlefield and freshman Britney Cheatham tied for third medalist at 100 with two NL girls.
SSHS' Cherish Bolton shot a 113, and Jessica Anderson came in with a 118.
Smith said the Lady Cats fell victim to some of the same problems that plagued the boys - letting one bad shot ruin a hole or one bad hole linger in their minds.
"If we can just get everybody down to what they've been averaging this year, we'll be OK and we'll make up those strokes pretty easily," Smith said.
"I think we're definitely the better golf team - we've just got to play like it. I think we're putting too much pressure on ourselves. We need to just play the course and not worry about who we're playing or how they're doing."
Last year, the Lady Cats more than made up the seven strokes they trailed North Lamar on the final round, and Smith is confident they can do the same thing at Wright Park on Tuesday (a date change from the original schedule).
"We had hoped to come out tied or ideally ahead. It didn't work out that way, but we're not too far behind," he explained. "Things will kind of even up over the next two rounds at Greenville at Texarkana, which are neutral courses for us both.
"We've got to play the course and shoot the best possible score on each hole, and take it one hole at a time rather than worrying about what our score will be at the end. We're going to get back to the basics of just hitting the ball down the fairway and making our putts."
The SSHS No. 2 team is in fifth place, 18 strokes out of third.
They shot a 520, led by Allison Hefner's round of 123. Kourtney Hughes and Kaitlyn Potts each carded 125, Sarah Yosten 147, and Danae Bain 152.
Team - 1. Texas High No. 1, 302; 2. North Lamar No. 1, 319; 3. Mount Pleasant No. 1, 328; 4. Greenville, 331; 5. North Lamar No. 2, 332; 6. Sulphur Springs No. 1, 334; 7. Paris No. 1, 341; 8. Texas High No. 2, 355; 9. Sulphur Springs No. 2, 384; 10. Mount Pleasant No. 2, 407; 11. Paris No. 2, 420.
Top 10 Medalists - 1. Zack Fisher, Texas High, 70; 2. Tyler Verner, Mount Pleasant 73; 3. Chris Haayen, Greenville, 74; 4. Cabe Prieskorn, Texas High, 75; 5. Chris Chewning, Texas High, 77; 6. Stephen Wooldridge, North Lamar, 78; 7. Krogman, North Lamar No. 2, 79; 8T. Dustin Gideon, Sulphur Springs, 81; 8T. Conner Ribble, Texas High, 81; 8T. Parish, Greenville, 81.
Team - 1. North Lamar, 402; 2. Sulphur Springs No. 1, 411; 3. Greenville, 501; 4. Paris, 519; 5. Sulphur Springs No. 2, 520.
Top 10 Medalists - 1. Allison Felty, North Lamar, 94; 2. Whitney McDaniel, Sulphur Springs, 98; 3T. Kylie Littlefield, Sulphur Springs, 100; 3T. Britney Cheatham, Sulphur Springs, 100; 3T. Beal, North Lamar, 100; 3T. Steed, North Lamar, 100; 7. Lewis, North Lamar, 108; 8. Bulls, North Lamar, 111, 9T. Cherish Bolton, Sulphur Springs, 113; 9T. C. Morrone, Paris, 113.