E.A. Sports Today

Rock steady

White Plains three-peats boys title in historic playoff, McCareeth wins medalist

Nathan Griffin moves in to congratulate teammate Cameron McCareeth after White Plains closed out the playoff in the Calhoun County Boys Tournament. (B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Once you’ve been subjected to the squeamish experience of dissecting a cow’s eye in biology class, can a sudden death playoff on the golf course really be that scary?

The White Plains boys golf team won its third straight Calhoun County Tournament title Saturday, edging Donoho by five shots on the first hole of a team playoff at Pine Hill Country Club.

They created the first team playoff in tournament history by tying at 625 after 36 holes of regulation. Donoho made up a three-shot gap behind the Wildcats with a final-round 307, and both passed first-round leader Oxford along the way.

White Plains junior Cameron McCareeth was the medalist, posting a final-round 4-over-par 76 for a two-day 6-over 150. He won by two shots over Donoho’s Jacob LeCroy. Donoho’s Jack Svensen edged first-round leader Keaton Borrelli of Oxford on their second playoff hole for third place.

“I loved the way our guys responded to adversity today,” Wildcats coach Chris Randall said. “Yesterday they would turn bogeys into doubles and triples. Today, they stayed within themselves, even on a bad shot; they didn’t let it affect them and made the smart play. They learned from yesterday. Very proud of everybody.”

White Plains made two birdies in the team playoff. While all the other players were negotiating various hazards on the 18th hole, McCareeth made a 12-footer – punctuated with a fist pump — to clinch the title. But it was the tap-in by freshman Andrew Miller in the first wave of playoff players that gave the three Wildcats behind him the freedom to be aggressive.

It was only two days ago Miller was staring down at the cow’s eye in biology class and it was too uncomfortable to take. He was excused to the nurse’s office to collect himself and even though he felt fine moments later he wound up staying there through the school period reserved for his chipping and putting practice.

With all that behind him, he went out and shot 76 in the final round and made the big pressure shot in the playoff — nearly holing a short and “relatively easy” wedge he had been practicing all week after bombing a 3-wood from 230 yards to raise the intimidation factor.

“You just can’t say enough about Cameron, how steady he was all day; he was a big key,” Randall said. “But when you’re freshman comes out and shoots 76 under this kind of pressure and then he birdies the first playoff hole to give everybody confidence … he really showed some guts today and some toughness.

“People think golf is not a tough game? You’ve got to have some nerve about you to finish with a birdie in front of 250 people watching on the 18th green. I know grown men who wouldn’t be able to get their hands to stop shaking in that situation and that freshman comes out here and birdies it in front of all these folks to win the playoff … He made a memory today.”

As a basketball coach, Randall understands the pressure that comes with overtime, and the playoff is sports version of OT. Miller called the tension that existed in the science lab and on the golf course “different.” He was a lot more comfortable staring down a big shot on his 37th hole of the tournament than he was in that biology lap with something looking back.

“Golf you’re actually nervous and the other is making you sick,” he said. “I was not even nervous hitting it off the tee. I’ve been hitting that shot 1,000 times here. I just knew I could hit that shot. I wasn’t nervous at all. It was just my time.

“The pressure just kind of feeds me, I guess. I just like being there for the big moments, where there’s a lot of people counting on me, a lot of people watching, just to hit a good shot. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than that.”

McCareeth, meanwhile, was rock steady throughout the final round. He started the day two shots behind Borrelli’s career round on Friday but once he moved into the lead, it ultimately became a two-man race between him and LeCroy and he maintained a two-shot lead down the stretch.

Lecroy had chances to close on the lead coming home, but three-putted 17 for bogey and failed to get out of the greenside bunker on 18 for another bogey.

“I just kind of relaxed and let it happen,” McCareeth said. “I just had to trust in myself mainly and the rest of it had to play out.”

In the playoff McCareeth played 3-wood off the tee over the cart path and hit a hybrid from 255 yards through the green and chipped on to set up his birdie.

“I had the line before I even got down to read it,” he said. “I knew where it was going and all I had to do was make sure I had the right speed.

“The playoff hole … that’s when I felt that I actually had a good hole today where it actually felt like I won, especially for the team win just because of the situation that had to happen. All down the fairway we’re caddying for each other and we’re hitting shots into the water and we’re getting nervous. We just had to pull one out and we just trusted ourselves and trusted in our work.”

In addition to the 76s by McCareeth and Miller, the Wildcats counted in regulation a 77 by Colman Hayes and had the choice between the 81s of Nathan Griffin and P.J. Sotelo. Donoho counted LeCroy (76), Svensen (75), Harrison Hughston (79) and Buddy Ray (77) in the final round.

In the playoff, the Wildcats counted the birdie-4s by McCareeth and Miller, a 6 from Sotelo and a 7 from Hayes. Donoho counted 6s from LeCroy, Svensen and Ray and an 8 from Holden Abernathy.

“We fought hard during the day to get to where we at least had a chance to win,” Donoho coach Garrett Burgess said. “It’s a hard way to lose, I guess; it’s never fun. I don’t know if it would’ve been easier or harder losing by one during the real thing or in the playoff. There’s no easy way to lose.”

First-round leader Keaton Borrelli of Oxford tees off as White Plains’ Colman Hayes looks on. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

On the cover: Medalist Cameron McCareeth pumps his fist after making birdie on 18 to seal the playoff and give White Plains its third straight Calhoun County Boys Tournament title. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos). To see more of B.J. Franklin’s photos from the tournament go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com.

Team scores
x-White Plains 315-310—625
Donoho 318-307—625
Oxford 313-326—639
Alexandria 365-361—726
Pleasant Valley 382-385—767
Wellborn 399-384—783
Piedmont 413-400—813
Jacksonville 447-402—849
Ohatchee 430-422—852
Weaver 450-473—923
x-won on first hole of playoff (White Plains 6-4-7-4-X, Donoho 6-8-x-6-6)

x-Cameron McCareeth, WP 74-76—150
x-Jacob LeCroy, Don 76-76—152
xy-Jack Svensen, Don 79-75—154
x-Keaton Borrelli, Ox 72-82—154
x-Nathan Griffin, WP 75-81—156
x-Harrison Hughston, Don 78-79—157
x-Ethan Johnson, PV 77-81—158
x-Colman Hayes, WP 82-77—159
x-Andrew Miller, WP 84-76—160
x-Jeremy Allen, Ox 83-77—160
x-Will Turley, Ox 75-86—161
x-Buddy Ray, Don 85-77—162
x-Gavin Burrage, WP 81-82—163
x-Josh Davis, WP 84-79—163
x-Wesley Jenkins, WP 80-84—164
x-Jake Munroe, Ox 83-81—164
x-P.J. Sotelo, WP 83-81—164
Will Bedwell, Pied 86-79—165
Gage Miller, WP 81-85—166
Kenny Okins, WP 88-78—166
Holden Abernathy, Don 85-81—166
Houston Conger, WP 87-84—171
Peyton Bradley, WP 87-86—173
John Hutto, Don 86-88—174
Logan Gable, Alex 89-88—177
Ethan Floyd, Pied 85-92—177
Jason Howard, Don 85-93—178
Tucker Pearson, WP 86-92—178
Austin Roberts, WP 91-89—180
Hunter Watts, Alex 88-93—181
Braxton McFall, Jax 90-91—181
Andrew Kilgore, Alex 94-89—183
Zach Nichols, Alex 94-91—185
Jackson Fillingim, Ox 88-97—185
Zach Chandler, Well 92-94—186
Dalton Epps, Well 100-87—187
Tanner Alverez, WP 97-95—192
Taylor Harris, Ox 98-94—192
Brooks Davis, PV 96-98—194
Gabe Tonogan, Wea 98-96—194
Will Bowden, Alex 101-94—195
Dennis Carr, Jax 104-92—196
Eddie Ferguson, Ohat 104-92—196
Luke Waugh, Well 102-98—200
Logan Lewis, WP 95-107—200
Malakhi Gilbert, WP 96-105—201
JT Barthel, PV 104-99—203
Sage Snow, Alex 98-107—205
Daniel Norred, WP 103-105—208
Chandler Cupp, Well 107-105—212
Brody Smith, Well 105-112—217
Brock McSheridan, PV 111-107—218
Porter Stokes, WP 119-100—219
Nick Silvy, Ohat 110-109—219
Blake Noah, Ohat 108-111—219
Colby Gaines, PV 105-115—220
Austin Barnes, Ohat 112-110—222
Colby Knight, WP 109—114—223
Parker Alexander, Ohat 108-115—223
Braden Knight, WP 109-114—223
Logan Smith, WP 113-111—224
Tyler Cain, Jax 119-106—225
Dylan Roberts, Wea 99-127—226
Carter Paris, Jax 115-113—228
Nick Coheley, Pied 115-116—231
Hayden Eaton, WP 113-119—232
Will McFry, Ohat 110-123—233
Logan Nelms, Alex 120-116—236
Jackson Burell, Jax 123-115—238
Evan Marshall, PV 129-110—239
Dreven Lipscomb, Pied 127-113—240
Brock Murphy, Wea 125-125—250
Conner Raulerson, Jax 126-126—252
Nolan Howle, Well 128-128—256
Samuel Cupp, Saks 139-131—270
Joey Bolan, Wea 130-144—274
Hunter Wert, Ox 104-WD
Ryan Thacker, Ohat 122-WD
x-all-county team
y-earned position on second playoff hole

White Plains freshman Andrew Miller (L) and his playing partners watch Donoho’s Holden Abernathy putt. Miller played a big role for the Wildcats in regulation and the playoff Saturday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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