For the first time since 2009, Lakewood Ranch's boys golf team didn't bring a state championship back to Manatee County.
The Mustangs, who collected three straight team titles starting in 2011 and boasted the individual champion in 2010, posted a team score of 312 on Wednesday at Deer Island Golf and Lake Club in Tavares for a 618 two-day total and a ninth-place showing in the Florida High School Athletic Association's Class 3A finals.
The Mustangs finished 29 shots behind Lake Mary's winning score of 589.
"We were hoping to get off to a fast start and get some birdies and get some confidence," Lakewood Ranch boys golf coach Dave Frantz said. "And that just didn't happen. ... We just didn't get any momentum. This team is very driven on confidence, and I think probably (Tuesday) shook our confidence."
That Tuesday round saw four of the five Mustangs posting scores higher than their season averages, and it resulted in a seventh-place
Only senior Spence Schultz came in low on the first day, carding a 71. Schultz slipped in Wednesday's final round with a 76, while senior Barry McDonnell stepped forward with a 73.
The duo logged top-25 finishes, with Schultz (147 total) tying for 12th and McDonnell (150) tying for 22nd.
"They showed that they are good leaders," Frantz said.
The club's other senior, Charlie Sun, finished his prep career with an 83 for a 164 total.
Kelly Sun, a junior, had an 80 for a 157, and freshman Mike Wijas had an 87 for a 168.
Meanwhile, Bradenton Christian's Philip Knowles rebounded from an opening 76 to post a third-place finish in the Class 1A finals held at Mission Inn's El Campeon course at Howey-in-the Hills. Knowles fired a 70 in Wednesday's final round to wrap his high school career.
"It's always good to finish on better note than you started, but, obviously, my goal from the outset was to win," Knowles said.
The finish was the best in Panthers program history. Knowles ended up three behind Orlando Christian Prep's Luis Gagne, who had a 143 total over the two rounds.
"I had plenty of opportunities," Knowles said. "I hit 15 greens and didn't make a putt. Couldn't buy a putt all day. ... It was, honestly, one of those very mediocre 70s."
Saint Stephen's Jack Cen also registered a top-10 finish, when he tied for sixth place after a 74 on Wednesday gave him a 150 total.
The Falcons bettered their team score by two shots in the final round and secured a fifth-place showing with a 640 total. Winter Park Circle Christian was the champion with a 610.
Justin Wynen (76-86--162), David Gao (85-80--165), Ryan Kinkead (85-80--165) and Christopher Pollen (84-85--169) rounded out the Saint Stephen's scores.
Cen and Pollen are both departing as seniors.
With three seniors departing, Lakewood Ranch will look different next year, just like it did this year with the departures of stalwarts Danny Walker (the 2010 individual champion), Ramsey Touchberry and Luke Miller.
"I don't want to say a rebuilding. I like to think of it, at least in our program, as a reloading process," Frantz said. "We always get one or two transfers in. That was Mike last year. Then we have our homegrown talent at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. ... We're definitely getting two or three from the country club. So it's going to be a new process."
In addition to losing three seniors, Lakewood Ranch will also be looking to replace Frantz. The veteran coach retired briefly after last season, but returned when the program couldn't find anyone to replace him.
But that return was only a one-year deal.
"One and done; this was it," Frantz said. "I hung around because we couldn't really find anyone in the time frame, and we did find a really good assistant coach."
That assistant coach is Tommy Villani, who played collegiately at Loyola University-Maryland.
Frantz said he doesn't know the timetable for choosing a new coach, but the decision on a new coach likely won't occur until next summer.