LaFavour Medalist; Team Second and Advance To Boys Golf Regional

Posted on June 3, 2017 in Boy's Golf, Spring Sports

BLUFFTON — Marion breezed to a second consecutive Norwell Sectional boys’ golf championship Friday afternoon and overcame course conditions that were deceptively challenging.
Despite the splendid 80-degree weather, Giants coach Mark Hyman took one look at the Timber Ridge golf course’s firm greens and figured scoring would be difficult. Yet, the Giants combined for a 313 that was seven strokes lower than last year’s winning total and 11 better than runner-up Oak Hill.
Led by medalist Blake LaFavour, the only golfer to match par-72, the Golden Eagles advance with the Giants to Friday’s regional at the Players Club, Yorktown. Josh Dakin represents Mississinewa in the regional after firing a 78 in the sectional, good for a fourth-place overall finish.
“We shot 320 last year and once I saw how hard the greens were and how the kids were handling it, I thought if we shot under 320 we would win it,” Hyman said. “Our kids did a really good job of adjusting to the greens because they were so firm. It was hard to hit onto the greens – you had to hit in front and then release and get to the hole, and we adjusted well to that.”
Luke Leffler led the Giants with a 76 despite making bogey or worse on the last four holes. Until then, the junior was 2-under par with six birdies and appeared headed for top individual honors.
“It was just mental issues,” Leffler said. “I was hitting the ball well and then had a couple chunk chips, and I was just not focused or I got too upset. But I was hitting the ball well so I’ll go into (regional) confident and that’s all that matters.”
Braden Drook was medalist of last year’s sectional in a playoff and came back to shoot four shots worse with an 78 and had no birdies in the round. Kaleb Freshwater matched Drook’s total, and twin brother Kobe Freshwater rounded out the Giants scoring with an 81.
“I didn’t play nearly as well as I did last year,” Drook said. “But I kept playing through it and came up with the best score that I could. (Timber Ridge) is a scoring course and I didn’t take advantage of it.
“Overall, we played well today and a lot better than last year and hopefully, we can keep this going and lower it again (at regional),” he added. “We can all go low and if we all go low at the same time we can really go low as a team.”
After shooting 292 Saturday in the Northfield Invitational at Honeywell Golf Course, the Giants were looking to put a low number on the Timber Ridge course. Leffler said the team had put pressure on themselves to do just that and should have focused less on the score.
“Only thing my kids need work on is finishing and we didn’t finish real strong,” Hyman said. “We were headed for 308 or 309 and had a couple mess ups on the way in, but we had a cushion because we had played so well on the front (152) that it didn’t make any difference.”
LaFavour was playing in the same group with Leffler, who said the Oak Hill sophomore was hitting his shots “pure” and straight and getting up-and-down on every hole. He had shot a 73 Saturday in the Grant Four at Arbor Trace that included a hole-in-one and reduced his low score for the second consecutive meet.
“I’m just hitting the ball better, I guess, hitting more greens and making more putts,” said LaFavour, whose two birdies were canceled out by a pair of bogeys. His second bogey on No. 17 occurred when his par putt lipped out of the cup.
“I hit some good par putts that helped me secure my 72,” LaFavour added. “(Medalist) means a lot and it was one of my goals this year.”
LaFavour had been sixth man on last year’s Oak Hill team and did not play in the sectional. Yet, Eagles coach Gerry Conway knew even then LaFavour had a promising future.
“He’s gaining confidence and learning and namely it has been course management,” Conway said. “You got to compete at a high level and learn through those experiences how to manage your round and he’s getting smarter at that. It’s allowed him to score and he will get even better in my estimation.”
Other Eagles had disappointing rounds with No. 1 golfer Adam McDivitt firing an 84, Ethan Gallaway 82 and Grant Gillespie 86 to finish out the team scoring. The 324 team total was one stroke better than last year.
“We had three goals – to win (Central Indiana) conference, win Grant Four and get out of sectional and advance as a team to regional and we accomplished all that,” Conway said. “They can be content and now go for the icing on the cake and go down to regional and shoot a number and see what happens.”
Dakin said his game came together in the past week, beginning with earning medalist honors in Wednesday’s final regular-season meet, and the result was the junior’s lowest ever tournament round.
“It’s been three years in the making,” Dakin said. “This is my junior year and it’s been a long ride and finally I broke through. I had no nerves and I felt it all week. I’ll go to (regional) as an underdog and maybe I can have lightning in a bottle.”
Mississinewa finished eighth with a 360 total and also had Doak Labarr with an 86, Breyton Berryhill with a 90 and Braden Henry with a 100.
Eastbrook had hoped to give Grant County three teams in the regional but faltered to a 366 total for eighth place. Joseph Kerschner failed to advance as an individual for the second straight year after firing an 87 while Noah Ross led with 86, Jackson Bush shot 93 and Collin Lehrian 100.
“We knew Marion was uncatchable, but Bellmont and Oak Hill we felt like we could catch them,” Eastbrook coach Adlai Deisler said. “Even if we didn’t get out, I really thought we could get Joseph and Noah to regional and it didn’t happen.
“I told them before the match that we had a good season and went 13-1 and beak Oak Hill and Northfield in head-to-head meets. It just didn’t end the way we wanted.”
Madison-Grant was 11th with 416 and had Bryce Miller with 94, Cole Bramel 98, Clayton Bohlander 106 and Duke Sneed 118.

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