Saturday, September 27, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers get sweep in Central golf match

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe boys’ and girls’ golf teams each finished first at the 5A-Central Conference Tournament at the Stone Links Golf Course in North Little Rock on Tuesday, and with the conference championship in their possession, the Badgers and Lady Badgers have qualified for next month’s state tournament.

The Beebe boys’ team score of 356 was 51 strokes ahead of second-place Sylvan Hills, who took second Tuesday with a team score of 407. Beebe’s Cole McNeil was the individual medalist in the boys’ division. He turned in a scorecard of 78.

Pulaski Academy took third in the boys’ division with a team score of 431, and Jacksonville finished just behind the Bruins with a score of 433.

Jacksonville’s Jeremy Wilson and Haley Elmore each finished third individually and also qualified for the state tournament. Wilson broke up a Beebe sweep of the top three spots with an 89. Elmore shot a 98 as the lone Lady Red Devil to play in the event.

Beebe coach Art Bell was confident he would get a good round out of McNeil, but was very pleased with how his whole team performed.

“It was probably the best overall our team has played,” said Bell. “We’ve had some individuals turn in better scores throughout the year, but we were only playing nine holes through the year. This was the first time they competed in an 18-hole tournament.”

Beebe sophomore Landon Davis finished the tournament second in the boys’ division with a score of 85. Beebe’s team participants finished the match, individually, first, second, fourth and seventh, respectively.

Hunter Davis, a senior for the Badgers, finished fourth with a score of 92, and teammate Cole Clevenger shot a 101 to finish seventh overall.

Only two schools had enough participants to qualify for the team competition in the girls’ division, and even though Pulaski Academy had the top golfer of the two schools, Beebe’s team score of 314 was enough to edge out the Lady Bruins’ score of 321.

Pulaski Academy took an early lead in the team competition when medalist Audrey Pulliam turned in a stellar score of 77, but the Lady Badgers combined to outdo the Lady Bruins’ team in the end.

Beebe’s Valerie Cook finished second in the girls’ division with a score of 93, and Baylee Halford finished fourth with a score of 103. Teammate, Caelyn Longing, shot a 118, which was good for eighth place in the girls’ competition.

The conference championship didn’t at all come easy for the Lady Badgers, as it came down to the last holes before a winner was decided. In fact, because of Pulliam’s top score, the Beebe girls were forced to play from behind most of the way.

It took strong play from all three Lady Badgers, especially down the stretch, to overcome the Lady Bruins’ team score.

Even though Cook was the top scorer for Beebe, Bell said Halford and Longing each had to play better than the pair of Lady Bruins they were matched up against if the Lady Badgers were going to have a shot at taking the lead, and in turn, the conference championship.

“I knew the girl from Pulaski Academy (Pulliam) was really good,” Bell said. “She finished third at state last year, and so I told them (Halford and Longing) ‘you two are going to have to do better than the girls you’re paired with.’ And they were. They were a lot better and that’s what made the difference.”

The 5A girls’ state tournament will take place next Wednesday at the Pine Bluff Country Club, and the 5A boys’ state tournament will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Pine Bluff’s Harbor Oats Golf Club.