By Creg Stephenson, Item Sports Correspondent
The Picayune Item
BIG POINT —
On a windy day at Whispering Pines Golf Course, Pearl River Central blew away the competition.
The Blue Devils shot a team total of 304 to win the Region 4-5A tournament by 24 strokes ahead of second-place Picayune, and also had the top four individual finishers. Junior Nick Sumner fired an even-par 72 to earn medalist honors and lead a PRC team effort that coach Bruce Penton said was the best in school history.
“It was a great day for us,” Blue Devils instructor Cecil Watkins said. “We were consistent across the board. Even our No. 5 player shot well. If not for two holes, he would have been in the 70s. It was a hard wind, but we handled it pretty good. I think our guys are all peaking at the right time.”
After Sumner, sophomore Malachi Spiers shot 76, junior Matthew Spiers and sophomore Mason Cunningham both carded 78s and junior Skye Steckler managed an 83. Steckler’s total was not counted in the team scores (only the top four from each team are), but was still tied for the seventh best of the day overall.
Sumner, both Spiers brothers and Cunningham made up the all-tournament team along with East Central’s Wyatt Adkison (79) and Pascagoula’s Ty Howell (79). Drew Larsen was Picayune’s top individual at 83.
Picayune’s 338 team total qualified the Maroon Tide for the state tournament, which is May 1-2 at the Ole Miss course in Oxford. Third-place Pascagoula (339) and fourth-place East Central (343) also earned state bids.
It was a disappointing day for the host Hornets, who were coming off a team round of 309 and a first-place finish in last week’s St. Patrick Invitational at Grand Bear in Saucier. Adkison was the only Hornets player who shot in the 70s, with Bryce Jackson (83), Austin Gryzbowski (88), Wade McDowell (93) and Ryan Overstreet (96) rounding out the Hornets’ contingent.
“I think our guys were pressing,” East Central coach Josh Bishop said. “I think being at home, and the way we played in that last tournament, it was just too much for them. Sometimes we’re not as mentally tough as we should be, but the ultimate goal is to qualify for state, and we did that. We know what we’re capable of, so we just have to forget about today and move on.”
Drew Schmidt was Picayune’s second-highest finisher at 84. Jon Brunson (85), Brandon Ladmirault (86) and Ben Hickman (87) completed the Maroon Tide’s fivesome.
After Howell, Pascagoula’s scores included Austin Clark (85), Kody Davis (85), Mitchell Cecatiello (90) and Drew Ford (110). Jayden Morgan (92) and Hunter Guillott (99) were the top individuals for Gautier, which finished seventh at 401.
West Harrison (372) and Long Beach (385) finished in fifth and sixth places. Top individuals for those schools were Devin Robinson (86) for the Hurricanes and Garrett Garcia (84) for the Bearcats.