MONDAY'S PREP ROUNDUP: Reigning Herald Player of Year Crews leads Deerfield golf team to Region 3-AAA crown

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

MACON -- If famed college basketball announcer Dick Vitale was calling Monday's Region 3-AAA golf tournament at Houston Lakes Country Club, he might've had this to say about Deerfield's Josh Crews.

"That Josh Crews ... he's a P-T-Per, baby!"

That stands for "Prime-Time-Player," and Crews -- The Herald's 2010 co-Player of the Year for boys golf with Byne's Spenser Ferrell -- once again lived up the billing as Mr. Clutch when he led the Knights to the Region 3-AAA title with the tournament's low round of 72. Crews, just a sophomore, not only repeated his low medalist feat from a year ago at region, but he returned Deerfield golf's team to the head of the class one season after the Knights lost the crown to Brookwood in a one-hole, sudden-death playoff.

"Once it comes down to crunch time -- when it really matters -- I'm gonna focus more than I ever do. And not just me, but we all focused (Monday) and went out and got the win," Crews said of his teammates, who combined to fire Deerfield's lowest score of the season, a 308. "Before I came into the tournament, I (mentally) planned out every shot, every hole. And it all came together."

What makes the feat even more impressive is the fact that Deerfield bombed at Houston Lakes earlier this season, shooting a 333 in an effort that nearly had head coach Gordy Gruhl pulling his hair out.

"I think we had some guys who, after that round started going badly (earlier this year), kind of threw in the towel," said Gruhl, whose team now advances to the GISA State Tournament on May 9 at Jekyll Island. "You don't ever play a round of golf without some adversity, but the guys did a good job of putting that in their rearview mirror."

Crews' 72 was his lowest score, of any round of golf, all year. But he was by no means alone in leading DWS to the title.

Deerfield's two Johns -- John Leach and John Cole -- both had great days as Leach shot the second-lowest score of the tournament at 76, followed by Cole's 78. Crews, Leach and Cole also made the All-Tournament team.

"Both Johns played great," Crews said. "Everyone did, really. We knew this was serious and we were all so focused to win this thing. We talked beforehand about how important it was to get that (region title) banner hanging back up in the school."

Hunter Brooks' 82 was the other score counted by DWS, which dominated the field from start to finish. Tiftarea was second at 329 -- 21 strokes behind Deerfield -- followed by Westfield (340), Sherwood (379) and Southland (433).

In year's past, the Top 4 teams automatically advanced to the state, but the GISA changed the rules this year. If a team doesn't shoot 380 or under, it can't advance, no matter what place it finished. That means the Eagles, who were led by Walt Matthews' 85, just snuck in by a stroke, while Southland, which saw its lowest score belong to Austin Smith (99), will be left out.

DWS now turns its attention to Jekyll Island, where Crews -- who also won low medalist last year at state as a freshman -- likes his chances to repeat -- and for the Knights to win it all.

"I'll be honest ... I'm thinking about both (the team win and the individual win)," he said. "I think I can win medalist again, and I think we can win the state title. If we play like we played (Monday), we have a really good shot."



MACON -- Westwood's reigning Herald Player of the Year Sydnee Smith's quest of a three-peat is off to a good start.

Smith, a junior who has won the last two Class A state crowns, kicked off the road to No. 3 (after a first-round bye) with a 6-0, 6-0, win Monday at the State Individual Championships in Macon. Smith only lost one game in four matches a year ago en route to the title, and coach Carole Powell sees no reason why that won't happen again.

"She looked good (Monday)," Powell said. "Real good."

Only the first two rounds were played Monday as players will now return next Monday for the semis and finals. Also advancing to the semis on the girls side for the Lady Wildcats was the doubles duo of Annabelle Larkin/Kaycie Eubanks.

Westwood's No. 1 boys star Jake Kotter, who also had a bye, won his quarterfinal match, 6-0, 6-0, and remains in the hunt for his first state singles crown.

But the news was not as good for the rest of Westwood's team that made the trip to Macon as Dylan Larkin/John Vereen won their first match, then lost in the quarters, while Daniel Hayes/Nolan Rigsby also fell, as did singles players Mason Jones and Jacob Patel.

Also representing Class A on Monday were the doubles duo of Brooke Taylor and Amber Boyette of Randolph Southern. They won their two rounds to advance to the semifinals, as did Ashley Purvis/Erin Smarr from Crisp Academy, giving Southwest Georgia's Region 3-A three out of the four semifinalists in the girls doubles bracket heading into next Monday.


In Class AAA, the Knights saw the No. 1 tandem of Robert Newsome/Reid Wright advance easily -- losing just five games in four sets -- after a pair of first- and second-round wins, while the Lady Knights' No. 1 duo of Hope Kitchen/Lucy Kelley cruised, 6-1, 6-0, in the opening round, and 6-2, 6-1, in the quarterfinals. Kitchen was half of the doubles team that won the title a year ago with here older sister Sarah, extended Deerfield's streak of girls state doubles crowns to six in a row.

Coming up just short for Deerfield was the No. 2 duo of Nasser Risvi and Will Calhoun, who lost in the second round in a close match, as well as the No. 2 team of Paige Hawke and Caroline Holley.

Also locally, Southland's No. 1 team of Ryan Singley/Sachin Kothari advanced to next Monday's semifinals.



ALBANY -- Returning from an ACL tear she suffered last year, Deerfield's Lauren Fulford scored for the first time Monday in only her third game back.

Then she scored again ... and again ... and again ... and again ... and again ... and again.

Fulford tied former DWS star Dallas Joiner's school record with seven goals Monday in a 14-0 rout of Tattnall Square, leaving coach Aly Joslin in awe.

"In all my years (coaching), I've never seen anything like it," he said.

Adding goals for DWS (6-3-1) were Candace Cosby (2), Casey Kincheloe (2), Cheyenne Colvin (2) and Laney Elliot.

The DWS boys (6-6) were also in action Monday as they stomped Tattnall, 5-1, behind two scored from Trey Puckett and Gaughf Ivey, and one from James LaRussa.

The boys play Thursday at home vs. Brookwood, while the girls host Calvary.



CAMILLA -- The Westwood baseball team got home runs from Douglas Nobles and Alex Chambless and a four-hiter on the mound from Caleb Morrell to beat Terrell Academy, 10-5, on Monday. Mitch Good, Kaleb Bentley and Jake Edore each had two hits. One of Good's hits was a double and Morrell struck out five as the Wildcats opened up a 5-0 lead after the first inning and never looked back.

Westwood improved to 10-4 and will next travel to Georgia Christian today.