Triton entered the final Two Rivers 3A Conference boys golf match of the season at Reedy Creek Golf Course Wednesday holding a one-point lead in the conference standings, but Corinth Holders beat the Hawks by 13 strokes to pull into a tie with Triton and split the conference championship with Triton.
Smithfield-Selma’s Ethan Faulconer shot a 70 to take individual medalist honors and win a tight race for the conference’s player of the year title.
“It feels great,” Faulconer said. “I can’t really put it into words right now. I was just trying to play well in my last match. I took it hole by hole and it just happened. It was my day and it feels great.”
Faulconer set the tone for himself early on with a strong start to the round.
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“I came out and birdied the first hole, so I felt like I was off to a great start,” he said. “I got 3-under through five (holes), so I was really feeling good. But I had some tough holes. I fought through adversity, though, and finished strong.”
If there was any pressure from the tight race to the finish, Faulconer said it did not affect him.
“I was behind going in to today and I knew that if I just played my game and didn’t worry about them, I could get it done,” Faulconer said. “I didn’t really worry about what they were doing on the first couple of holes, but there was definitely some pressure on the last couple.”
Triton’s Cam Brown finished second individually, followed by Corinth Holders’ Ian Apsey and South Johnston’s Eston Lee.
Corinth Holders started the season with a win at Reedy Creek, but was overtaken by a Triton surge before finishing strong with two wins to split the conference.
“We played the first match here this year and played good here,” said Pirates coach Jeff Parker. “We took our first win and give Triton credit, they came on and played really well. They were leading going into the last and I told my guys, ‘We need to relax and win the next couple. Play your game. Play smart. Take sure shots. Don’t do anything silly.’ The past two matches, luckily enough one was at home and this is almost like a second home, I think that benefited us.”
Parker said the performance of his No. 2 golfer, Jake Petrowski, was a major key for the Pirates.
“He’s ended up shooting some of his better rounds this year,” Parker said. “His scores are kind of what put us over the top. Ian (Apsey), my No. 1, played well this year. He played what we expected out of him, but Jake really stepped up for us this year.”
Triton coach John Hardee said a more experienced team helped improve the Hawks’ from second last year to co-champions this year.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Hardee said. “I think we finished second last year and had some younger boys. I’ve got some upperclassmen and I’ve got two seniors this year. I’m proud for them. One of my seniors really came through this year and improved his game, Chase Parham. It contributed to the team a lot. Then also, the young Cameron Brown has helped our team tremendously. Overall, I’m just proud of the team.”
Corinth and Triton shared first in the season standings with a total score of 33 points. South Johnston took third at 22, followed by Western Harnett, Cleveland and Smithfield-Selma.
Corinth, Triton and South will represent the conference in the team regionals. Faulconer and Western Harnett’s Tyson Pace, Ryan Carlson and Kamrin Lewis also qualified individually for regionals.
In addition to Faulconer, Brown, Apsey and Lee, the all-conference members were Jake Petrowski, Tyler Barritt and Jake Linker from Corinth Holders, Chase Parham, Lee Bass and Aaron Jackson from Triton, Tyson Pace from Western Harnett and Casey Charbonneau from South Johnston.
Parker and Hardee shared coach of the year honors.
Cleveland was given the award for sportsmanship.