E.A. Sports Today

White Plains boys driven

Wildcats presumptive favorites in boys championship after last year’s heartbreak

Alexandria's Katie Roberts (L) resets the pin before offering congratulations to White Plains' Layne Dyar at the end of their playoff Saturday. On the cover, White Plains boys Trevor Lane (L) and Nathan Gilbert (R) with East Alabama Sports Today content editor Al Muskewitz after a round at Pine Hill. (Photo by Eddy Reese)

Alexandria’s Katie Roberts (L) resets the pin before offering congratulations to White Plains’ Layne Dyar at the end of their playoff Saturday. On the cover, White Plains boys Trevor Lane (L) and Nathan Gilbert (R) with East Alabama Sports Today content editor Al Muskewitz after a round at Pine Hill. (Photo by Eddy Reese)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Every team that tees it up in this weekend’s Calhoun County Boys Golf Championship wants to win the tournament, but none will be more motivated than the one that finished second last year.

White Plains roared back by from a double-digit overnight deficit to challenge Oxford’s dominance in the event only to lose by one when Chandler Allen birdied his final hole to give the Yellow Jackets the title and win medalist honors in the process.

It’s the closest the Wildcats have ever come to winning a boys county championship in the school’s history, and losing by the slimmest of margins has burned deep all year.

That memory will be the foundation of every shot they hit when the tournament gets underway Friday at Pine Hill Country Club.

“It was definitely heartbreaking,” White Plains coach Marcus Harrell said. “You’d like to say you never remember those things or you let them go, but it’s something we think about and actually talk about regularly around here.

“We’ve set goals for both (boys and girls) teams and one of the goals is to win the County Championship. The girls fell a little bit short; we’re hoping the boys can come through with it.”

With four of the five players back and intimate knowledge of the tournament course, the Wildcats are the presumptive favorites. Oxford, Alexandria and Donoho will make it a tight race.

Dustin Travis, Layton Bussey, Trevor Lane and Drennen Beam all return to the Wildcats’ lineup; senior Nathan Gilbert is the newest piece of the puzzle. Gilbert has been a positive addition to the lineup, several times providing the difference in victory.

Bussey had a front-row seat to last year’s heartbreak. Travis, playing in the leaders’ pairing, birdied 18 to draw even with Allen and the Wildcats into a tie for the lead. But Allen had one more hole to play and, with Bussey in the group, he made a 20-foot birdie putt on 1 that slammed off the back of the cup before falling and slamming the door on the Wildcats.

“The reason we were so torn up about it last year was because we practiced so much and we wanted it really bad,” Lane said. “We want it really bad this year, too.

“It kind of drives us. Every time we’re doing something we’re not supposed to be doing, (Harrell) reminds us how it felt to lose by even a shot.”

STORM ON HORIZON: Alexandria has won the County Girls Championship for as long as anyone can remember, but this year the Valley Cubs faced their sternest test yet and coach Scott Ginn feels the winds of change.

The Cubs won the team title by seven shots after trailing by one after the opening round and as many as seven early in the final round. White Plains junior Layne Dyar defeated Alexandria’s Katie Roberts in the first hole of a sudden death playoff for medalist honors and denied Cubs senior Jordan Gregoria an unprecedented third straight individual county title in the process.

How much is the gap closing. Two years ago in the county tournament, the Wildcats finished second to the Valley Cubs by 50 shots. A day before this year’s County Tournament, they beat by Cubs by three and Dyar won a playoff from Gregoria in a tournament in Cullman.

“I’m trouble here in the next few years; the writing’s on the wall,” Ginn said. “They work hard and (Harrell’s) knowledgeable about the game, so they’re teaching the right stuff and he’s got a great work ethic, so you’re going to see in the future the sky’s going to be the limit for them and this thing will get changed around.

“The same way as coach (Brenard) Howard had a lot of knowledge and worked hard to get us where we are, White Plains has the same thing coming on.”



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