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September 17, 2012

H.S. GIRLS' GOLF: Bulldogs turn tables on Floyd Central

New Albany repeats as sectional champions for the first time in school history

FLOYDS KNOBS — During several meetings throughout the course of the 2012 season, the Floyd Central girls’ golf team topped New Albany in most of those matchups.

On Saturday at Valley View Golf Club in the most significant tournament of the year, it was the Bulldogs’ turn to have the upper hand on their archrivals.

New Albany edged the favored Highlanders by one shot with a team score of 345 to repeat as New Albany Sectional champions. It was the first time in program history that the Bulldogs have won consecutive sectional titles. They captured their first-ever sectional crown last season.

The top three teams and the top three individuals on non-advancing teams advance to the Evansville Memorial Regional next Saturday at Eagle Valley Golf Course in Evansville. Third-place Corydon Central will join the Highlanders and Bulldogs at Eagle Valley.

According to Bulldogs’ coach Rick Belcher, his team had shot lower than Floyd Central only once this season entering the sectional. Belcher said an all-around team effort was the difference in nipping the Highlanders when it mattered most.

“We had no one that didn’t grind it out today,” Belcher said. “I told them going in that they were going to have bad shots and bad holes, but they’ve got to forget about them. It was all about us having fun and attacking the golf course. There have been a lot of hours put in, and it’s nice to see those hours pay off when you win.”

New Albany’s top two players — sophomore Heidi Steinert and junior Haley Roth — each got the Bulldogs off to a great start. Both players shot an 81, with Steinert earning second place in the individual standings by winning a two-hole playoff that involved four players.

“It was huge to get those scores in early. Posting two 81s early, that helps,” Belcher said.

New Albany’s three other players fired scores in the 90s. Sophomore Franci Burton shot a 90, senior Bailey Biggs carded a 93 and freshman Chloe Watts had a 96.

Belcher was thankful to a lot of people afterwards.

“I’ve got to thank the parents. It was all them and a smidgen of coaching,” Belcher said. “I want to thank my mentor [former New Albany golf coach] Jim King. I wouldn’t be here without him. I’ve also got to thank my wife.”

Sophomore Morgan Stanley paced Floyd Central with an 81, while Highlander junior Eliza Hudson shot an 82. Also for Floyd Central, freshman Jessica Ingram scored a 90, junior Ashley Dankovich recorded a 93 and junior Scarlett Hartlage carded a 96.

Floyd Central coach Lenny Hartlage thought the difference between his squad and the Bulldogs was some of his players did not play to their full potential.

“Nobody played their game except Morgan. Eliza played OK, but the other three didn’t play to their capabilities,” Coach Hartlage said. “It seems every time we had [putts between 3 to 5 feet], we would miss them every time. We didn’t play our best, but you’ve got to congratulate New Albany for playing well.”

Despite the Highlanders falling short of their first sectional title in two years, Lenny Hartlage thinks Saturday’s disappointment will benefit his players down the road.

“I think this will be good medicine for them. They realize that every shot is very important now,” he said. “I’d rather finish second this week and qualify for [the IHSAA State Finals] next week.”

Two area individuals booked their trips to regional by being among the top three players on non-advancing teams.

Clarksville senior Quincy Cooper fired an 81 in qualifying for regional for the fourth time in her career. She ended up third overall after participating in the playoff for the runner-up spot.

Cooper will be looking to qualify for the state finals for the second time in her career next weekend.

“It feels incredible. It shows that I have accomplished a lot,” Cooper said about earning her fourth regional berth. “My next goal is to get to state. I kept my attitude positive today. I took one shot at a time and I just had fun.”

Christian Academy senior Sydney Shrebtienko earned a regional spot with an 82, finishing tied for sixth overall with Hudson.

“I hit my driver really well today and I was chipping well,” Shrebtienko said.

Shrebtienko will be making her first trip to regional and left Valley View happy to finally reach the second tier of the IHSAA state tournament series.

“I’m really excited and glad to make it because my team really worked hard this year. I was pretty nervous going into today,” she said.

Corydon Central finished third to get the final regional berth with a 372. North Harrison was fourth with a 394, followed by Providence (402) and Silver Creek (408). Christian Academy placed seventh with a 427.

Jeffersonville junior Madison Kane fell one stroke short of advancing to regional, shooting an 83. Dragons’ freshman Charlotte Seaton was two shots shy of qualifying for regional with an 84.

Christina Fink led Borden with a 91. Morgan Boone topped the Pioneers’ scorecard with a 93, and Megan Payne paced Charlestown with a 99.

North Harrison’s Devan Smith earned sectional medalist honors for the first time in her career with a 76. Smith was the only golfer to shoot in the 70s in advancing to regional.

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