North Murray High School golfer Colby Hipp still thinks he has to shoot better for a chance at an individual state championship.
Meanwhile, most local teams that haven’t yet played in their region tournaments are eyeing at least a trip to sectionals if they can repeat what they did Saturday at Nob North Golf Course.
Hipp’s 1-under-par 71 easily made him the boys medalist at the Nob North Invitational, while Christian Heritage had the best team finish among local teams by taking third. In the girls tournament, Northwest Whitfield was the top area team at third.
This was the final tuneup before the week in which many teams play their region tournaments. Dalton, Northwest and Southeast Whitfield will play the Region 7-4A boys tournament Monday at Dalton Golf and Country Club, the same day Christian Heritage plays in the Area 4-A tournament at Coosa Country Club in Rome. Dalton, Northwest and Southeast’s girls play their Region 7-4A tournament Tuesday at Indian Trace in Chatsworth. With the exception of Dalton’s girls, all of those teams were present on Saturday.
LaFayette won the boys tournament with a 316 in the six-golfers-play, four-count format. Heritage-Catoosa (323) finished second with the Lions (325) right behind. The Bruins (332) finished fourth, followed by Dalton (334), Calhoun (351), Coahulla Creek (372), Ringgold (379), Southeast (386) and Northwest’s junior varsity team (386).
The format for a team’s postseason advancement straight to state is the same for all classifications and regions — win the region with a team score that meets the predetermined requirement. Second- through fourth-place finishing teams at region can advance to a sectional tournament — played in between region and state — by meeting the same score requirement, which is a 340 for boys teams.
Northwest, Dalton and Christian Heritage’s boys all met that score requirement at Nob North, which may not count for the postseason but could be a promising sign.
“That’s the reason we’ve played this tourney schedule,” Christian Heritage coach Gary Whaley said. “We wanted to go against schools with bigger pools of golfers to choose from. ... We played a practice round Thursday at Coosa and shot a 323. Today we shot a 325.”
Kyle Stanley’s 76 was good enough to make the all-tournament team and lead the Lions, who also received scoring rounds from Cole Townsend (81), A.J. Hooper (83) and Cole Maffetone (85). Blake Carver (93) and Harrison Gleaton (97) also played.
Whaley said he hasn’t seen the nine other teams in Area 4-A, saying, “We’re going in blind.” However, he feels the team would do well with a repeat performance.
“If we shoot a 325,” he said, “my gut feeling is we will be in the top four.”
Silas Ledford (78) also made the all-tournament squad and led Northwest, which received scoring rounds from Ethan Hayes (81), Sam Speights (84) and Chad Flanders (89). Chandler Lomax (90) and Tyler Linder (93) also played for the Bruins.
William Duffie shot an 81 to lead Dalton, which also received scoring rounds from Landon Hicks (84), Chris Kazmierski (84) and Cole Calfee (85). Allen Behr (86) and Jacob Brown (86) also competed for the Catamounts.
Coahulla Creek’s counting rounds came from Brannon Wilson (82), Austin Cole (93), Alec Longmire (95) and Ian Conway (102). Chandler Tate (109) and Caleb Chastain (131) also competed for the Colts.
Southeast’s counting rounds came from Eric Sosebee (93), Cameron Maynard (95), Andrew Head (97) and Jackie Stephens (101). Trey Terry (115) and Justin Hutcherson (127) also competed for the Raiders.
Tyler Clayton (92) and Alex Canady (92) led the Bruins’ JV team, while MaKray Kyer (96) and Elliot McBrayer (106) were the other scoring rounds. Chip Brown (106) and Gavin Thompson (119) also played.
Hipp was the Mountaineers’ only competitor — North Murray, along with the Colts, played the Region 5-3A tournament this past Monday — and he already qualified for the Class 3A state tournament as the lowest scoring golfer from a non-qualifying team. So for him, this was a warmup for May 20 at Reunion Country Club in Hoschton, where state will be held.
He shot 34 on the front nine and 37 on the back.
“(The wind) started picking up on the back, so I think that’s why my score there was higher,” he said, noting his game has continued to improve all season long. “Hopefully that continues through the summer.”
When asked if a 71 would be good enough to top the leaderboard at state, he said, “It’ll have to be lower than that.
“I putted well today just like I did earlier this week,” he added. “My ball striking has to get crisper.”
LaFayette’s Dylan Stansell (76) and Kurt Ingram (78), plus Heritage’s Sport Allmand (76) and Ben Rebne (77), rounded out the boys all-tournament team.
In the girls’ four-play, two-count format, Calhoun (179) to finish ahead of Madison County (186). Northwest (189) finished third thanks to a better third scorer than Heritage (189). North Murray (190) and Southeast (211) rounded out the teams, while Spaulding and Ringgold each had one golfer compete.
Marlee Bingham (91) led the Lady Bruins, who also received a counting round from Alicia Cole (98). Dallas Coker (101) and Emilee McKinney (110) also played.
Megan Collins shot an 83 for the second-best round and a spot on the all-tournament team to anchor Southeast’s Lady Raiders, who also received a scoring round from Bethany Reddix (128). Tory Bailey (144) and Hannah Dempsey (146) also played.
Region 7-4A coaches were looking at their official tournament scores while also keeping in mind what the region score would be with a third golfer counting toward the team tally. The necessary score to qualify for sectionals is a 320. Northwest would be fine based on Saturday’s performance. Southeast wouldn’t.
Lady Bruins coach John Linder said this is the best score from his team all season.
“I think everything we’ve done so far has been in the 300s,” he said. “If we’re playing our best golf right now, then good.”
He noted Dalton as the team to beat in the region, from what he has seen.
“Dalton has been the one shooting around 275 or 280 and really has set themselves apart,” Linder said. “They’re the ones setting the pace, so we’ll see.”
Jocelyn Blair (87) made the all-tournament team and led the Lady Mountaineers, who also received a scoring round from Tillie Hughes (103). Dara Dople (103) and Hali Sheram (107) also played.
The Lady Mountaineers already won their region title and are preparing for the Class 3A state tournament at Chateau Elan in Braselton on May 20.
Heritage’s Rachel Rebne (82) was the girls medalist. Madison County’s Katie Jane Phillips (86), and Calhoun’s Kaitlyn Smith (86) rounded out the girls all-tournament team.