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LOCAL COLLEGE/PREP ROUNDUP: DWS’ Leach claims individual region golf title

Sherwood golfer John Leach won the GISA Region 3-AAA individual golf title Tuesday at Doublegate Country Club.

Sherwood golfer John Leach won the GISA Region 3-AAA individual golf title Tuesday at Doublegate Country Club.

ALBANY — John Leach had just won it all, capturing the top spot in the GISA Region 3-AAA golf tournament at Doublegate Country Club on Tuesday, and he was looking for more — looking ahead to the state tournament next week.

That’s where Leach and the Deerfield-Windsor golf team hope to overtake Tiftarea, which won one of the closest region golf tournaments in recent memory on Tuesday by holding off DWS and winning the title by three strokes.

“We’ve got a second chance next week at state,’’ said Leach, who shot a 75 to win the tournament. “We need to get them next week.’’

Tiftarea is not only the defending GISA Class AAA state champions, but the Panthers brought everyone back this season. Still, Deerfield, which has two freshmen and a sophomore in its top four golfers, almost pulled off the victory.

It was about as close as it could get on Tuesday as Deerfield and Tiftarea were deadlocked after the first three golfers were in, and it took an 81 from Tiftarea’s No. 4 golfer, Austin Stripling, to lift the Panthers to the title with a total of 310. DWS shot a 313. Brookwood was third at 331, and Southland, which was led by Grady Barfield’s 92, was fourth at 404.

“We knew it was going to be close,’’ DWS golf coach Gordy Gruhl said. “We played them four times this year, and we beat them twice and they beat us twice.’’

Leach led the way for the Knights with a low-round 75, and two freshmen — Ethan Shellhaas (76) and Bill Sharpe (78) kept DWS locked up with Tiftarea, which saw it’s No. 1 golfer, Thomas Buckner, shoot a 77. Tiftarea’s Jordan Walker shot a 76 and Caroline Griffin, the only girl in the tournament, fired a 76.

“We do have a chance to win it next week,’’ said Gruhl, the DWS athletic director and legendary basketball coach who has won more than 1,000 games. “You certainly want to win the region, but we have another shot next week. I was talking with my doctor about it. His son played for my 2003 basketball team, and we didn’t win the region that year but went on to win the state championship. I may use that story this week with my golfers.’’

Gruhl always jokes about coaching at a golf tournament that he can’t go into a press or change tactics like in a basketball game, and at the end of the day he had nothing but praise for his kids.

“Bill (Sharpe) and Ethan have been solid for us all year, and Bill Sharpe came back from shooting a 42 on the front nine with a 36 to shoot a 78,’’ he said. “John (Leach) is kind of our rock. It seems like the higher the stakes are the better he plays. I was real proud of him winning it.’’

Leach said he wished he could have putted a little better, but he came through on a day when he nailed one birdie (the par 5 No. 13) and stayed out of trouble.

“This is my home course,’’ Leach said of Doublegate. “I usually shoot in the high 70s — 78, 79, so this was a good day for me. I just couldn’t get anything to fall and could have putted better. But I hit the ball well. It was a goal of mine to win this tournament, so I feel good about it. We will have another chance (at Tiftarea) next week. We’re going to get a second chance.’’

The state tournament is Monday in Thomasville, and the field will be tougher with strong teams from Stratford, Augusta Prep and others. Still, it could come down to Deerfield and Tiftarea again.

“They (Tiftarea) played just a little bit better than us,’’ Gruhl said. “But our kids battled and they had a great effort. We have a chance next week. It is possible. It’s obvious we both have good teams and anything can happen in a one-day golf tournament. In a one-day tournament you have to be good but you also have to be lucky and we just didn’t get the breaks (on Tuesday).’’

Sherwood’s Hanson wins region title

ALBANY — Sherwood’s Tyler Hanson defeated Ajay Patel from Valwood in the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff Tuesday at Stonebridge Country Club to capture the GISA Region 3-AA individual crown.

Valwood won the team title with a 330, followed by SGA at 363, Sherwood at 379 and Westwood at 380.

The top four teams in the seven-team tournament advance to next week’s state tournament.

Brandon Brookins shot an 88 to lead SGA, while Westwood was paced by Patrick Vereen’s 88.

Lady Pats knocked out of state tourney

KATHLEEN — Playing in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs for just the second time in program history, the Westover girls soccer team saw its season come to an end Tuesday.

Veterans scored three first-half goals and avoided several near-misses by the Lady Patriots to win the elimination game, 3-0.

Westover ends it season at 14-4 overall and will graduate six seniors — Tan Young, Carley Turner, Katie Brown, Abi Estrada, La’Kembria Williams and Amie Loudermilk.

Veteran’s first goal came in the 26th minute, and the Lady Warhawks, who are ranked sixth in the state, scored two more in the next 13 minutes to take a 3-0 lead to the break.

GSW moves to 12th in region tournament

Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. — Georgia Southwestern’s golf team made a huge move on Tuesday, climbing from 17th to 12th in the Division II Men’s South/Southeast Region golf tournament at the Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort in Lake County, Fla.

The Hurricanes fired a 10-over 298 on the second day of the three-day tournament and sit at 607 in 12th place. Nova Southeastern leads the field at 571.

Former Lee County star Nate Gahman shot a 76 on Monday but came back with a 1-under 71 to lead the Hurricanes on Tuesday. He is tied for 18th with a two-day total of 147. Matthew Whittaker and Andrew Ritchot are tied for 57th at 153 and J.P. Griffin is tied for 65th place at 154.