Prep golf | Saint Stephen's boys win; Manatee, Ranch girls advance

Saint Stephen's boys win; Manatee, Ranch girls advance

jdill@bradenton.comOctober 16, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Having players find their groove when the postseason begins is a luxury, no matter what sport it comes from.

In high school golf, it's especially fortunate to possess a variety of players that can become the team's top producer for that day's event.

On Monday, the Saint Stephen's boys golf team showcased its array of skilled players as the Falcons posted a 291 en route to capturing the Class 1A-District 16 tournament at Bradenton Country Club.

The club received a 69 from Connor Lynch on the par-71 layout.

Jack Cen (72) led Saint Stephen's in the Donald Ross Memorial Invitational in early October, and Seiya Liu (71) paced the Falcons in Friday's Manatee County tournament.

Both were runner-up finishes to powerhouse Lakewood Ranch, but it underscored something important about Saint Stephen's: the Falcons possess lots of depth.

Having Lynch post the lowest score for his team is precisely what head coach Matt Primrose has come to expect from this year's bunch.

"The guys are coming together," Primrose said. "We started off a little slow this year ... it's been different every time. That's who we are. We have five guys on our team that can shoot par or better. That's our team."

Lynch said he's worked on swing changes and he was locked into medalist honors with a 4-under par start through 16 holes.

However, the senior double-bogeyed the 17th before getting it up-and-down on No. 18 to tie Bradenton Christian's Philip Knowles.

The pair headed to a playoff, which Knowles won with a birdie on the second sudden-death hole to become the medalist.

BCS (305) and Sarasota Christian (324) rounded out the top three, which progress to the regional tournament next Monday in Cape Coral.

The top three individual scores not on an already qualified team also advanced from the district

tourney.

Cardinal Mooney's Jake LaMore (75), Southeast's Ryan Wolfe (78) and Out-of-Door Academy's Max Coutsolioutsos (79) booked those berths.

BCS' Landry Miller fired a 74 to earn a ribbon, awarded to the top six players.

However, the boys tourney belonged to the Falcons, who rode Lynch's hot play. Lynch said he benefitted from starting in one of the first groups.

"Personally, I'm kind of a fast player," Lynch said. "So I like the pace of going early, and I think that helps me."

Meanwhile, the girls Class 2A-District 13 tourney was also conducted at Bradenton Country Club.

Manatee finished in second place behind Venice. The Hurricanes were eliminated from district play last fall, but Manatee's Gianna Tomeo qualified for the 2A state tourney as an individual.

On Monday, Tomeo carded a 76 to claim medalist honors on her home course. But the sophomore wasn't finished following her round. As more and more players awaited scores to be posted, Tomeo was grinding on the practice putting green to remedy an issue that happened late in her round.

She four-putted the 17th hole, but overcame that hiccup to post a scorching round that was six shots better than the next lowest score.

"Not too happy about that," Tomeo said of the four-putt. "... Every tournament that I've ever played in, I've always pretty much not played good here. I don't know what it is. I think it's because you say, 'Oh, it's my home course, I can play this well all the time.' You kind of slack off. So (Monday), I tried to stay focused and play every shot like it was any golf course."

Lakewood Ranch (412) behind Courtney Castner and Allison Lindman's pair of 96s secured the final regional berth to the teams.

Braden River's Bianca Dean (104) earned an individual regional berth, while Palmetto's Idallas Quinones (107) missed out on a playoff for the last qualifying spot by a shot.

The girls 2A-13 regional is in Naples next Monday.

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