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Next stop: State
Patriots earn berth with 8-AAAA silver finish

BRASELTON - One stroke proved to be the difference between going to state and staying home as the Heritage boys golf team beat Loganville 336-337 to secure second place in the Region 8-AAAA tournament Monday at Chateau Elan.

"In the past, Heritage teams have either missed or made it by one stroke," Heritage coach Judd Hinton said. "It seems like that's our (modus operandi), either make it or miss it by one stroke.

"We're real happy to go to state. This is the position we like to be in every year. We just want to go to the state tournament and have a good time. We don't have any illusions of grandeur."

Shooting the low round for Heritage was Bennett Mitchell, who posted an 80.

"Bennett started the round real rocky. I think he was 5-over (par) for the first five holes. He really pulled it together and played well. He's done that several times this year. He knows how to hold on to a round and keep his cool," Hinton said.

Also playing a scoring round for the Patriots were Harrison Elliott (84), Joey Liston (84) and Chris Howard (88).

"We tried to be real relaxed. Last year we got real tight before we played in the region tournament," Hinton said. "This year we tried to keep it real loose. I'm not going to say we didn't take it serious because obviously we did, but we tried to be a loose as we can be."

Playing but not posting a score were Tony Dowdy (93) and Quinton Upshaw (96).

Bennett tied Apalachee's Mickey Pucillo for the second lowest round with Habersham Central's Nicholas Lowery getting low medalist with a 6-over par round of 78.

Habersham Central won the region championship with a score of 327.

Scoring for Habersham Central were Lowery, Jeffery Ledford (82), Jake Brooks (83) and Matt Lewaller (84).

Rockdale, with a team score of 404, finished seventh. Salem, scoring a 445, came in 10th place in the region.

Playing for Rockdale were Kyle Estes (89), Adam Nation (98), Corbin Norton (101), Forrest Freeman (110) and Eric Richardson (DNF).

Salem's team consisted of Cotton Clements (96), Colby Machenim (106), Johnathan Johnson, (121) Logan Machenim (122), Austin Clark (124) and Matt Barget (125).

Heritage will play in the Class AAAA state golf tournament May 4 at Nob North Golf Club.

Rockdale's girls gained some valuable experience that they may be able to use in next year's region tournament.

The Rockdale girls finished in sixth place with Lindsey Rogers and Zada Eshun posting a 128 and 131 for a team score of 259.

"I came up here with no expectations. I just wanted to get them some experience since they'll both be back next year. It's a good experience for them and you never know, maybe next year they'll put something together," Rockdale coach Frank Cassinio said. "They played some of their best golf as far as striking the ball and holing some putts. They kept the ball out of trouble.

"The course is playing tough so there are a lot of high scores. I think playing Cherokee Run really prepared the girls for this type of course. I don't think they were fazed by the change of elevation and the greens because Cherokee Run is such a tough course."

One team that was not affected by Chateau Elan was Madison County.

Courtney Boggs and Taylor Morgan had the two lowest scores for the girls, shooting a 100 and 102 for a team score of 202.

Also representing the region will be Habersham Central, runners-up with a score of 232.

Salem's Erin Knowles had hoped to make it to state in her senior year by winning the region low medalist.

Unfortunately for Knowles, the course got the better of her as she had the seventh-best score with a 114.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.