The Port Arthur News
HUNTSVILLE — Through wind, rain, stoppage of play and falling temperatures Thursday, the Port Neches-Groves golf team got what it came to the Region III golf tournament at Raven’s Nest for — a ticket to the 4A state championships April 29-30 in Austin.
The defending regional champs, after an uncharacteristic opening day 327, battled through miserable conditions to improve by 14 strokes with a 313 and finish second in the 16-team field with a 36-hole score of 640. Huntsville closed with a 312 to claim the team title at 606.
“Our 313 may not sound great, but it was pretty darn good considering the conditions,” said PN-G coach Ricky Keyes. “Our kids were all business today. They played smart. Nobody had a score on any hole worse than bogey. I’m really proud of the way they bounced back.”
With sophomore Braden Bailey’s 76 leading the way, PN-G put up four scores under 80. Bailey finished at 157, the same as Lonnie LaBove (78-79). Tyler Rawson shot 79-163 and Jarrod Brown posted 79-165. Brandon Soileau’s 89 didn’t count toward the team score.
As it turned out, the only sweat for the Indians, on what became a chilly day, was being able to complete the final 18 holes. Play was stopped for over an hour during a downpour but the rain finally moved through while temperatures plummeted.
“We were really playing well before the rain hit,” said Keyes. “We were eight over as a team on the front nine. It just got so much tougher later in the day. But I never doubted that these kids would bounce back. They knew what was on the line.”
PN-G, which needed to finish in the top three to move on to Austin, wound up 17 shots clear of the two teams that tied for third — Montgomery and Friendswood. Montgomery won the playoff spot to go to state.
Nederland, a surprising fifth after day one, and only a stroke behind PN-G with a 328, had all sorts of problems on Thursday en route to a 353. The Bulldogs finished seventh at 681.
Cole Trevino, who shot his second 85 for a 170 total, had the Bulldogs lowest second-day score. Michael Glover shot 88-170, Hunter Huff had 90-169 and Thaine Tillie carded 90-172. Avery LeBlanc’s 92-181 didn’t count.
Hard luck story of the day was LC-M’s James Walker, who was trying to play his way to state as a medalist. Walker triple bogeyed the last hole for an 84-156 to miss out on the final medalist spot by one stroke
Huntsville’s Chandler Phillips, who opened with a 68, shot 74 on Thursday to take medalist honors with a 142. Connor Black of Summer Creek was second at 144 (71-73). — Bob West