Ravenscroft wanted to give the leader and only senior on the golf team a nice going-away present.
And on a warm Tuesday at the Country Club of Whispering Pines the Ravens got it done.
Led by a sizzling 136 from Ryan Gerard, who will play at North Carolina next season, the Ravens combined for a 569 over 36 holes, ousting defending champion Cannon by 13 shots to claim the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A title.
It was the school’s eighth state team title in boys’ golf and the seventh for veteran head coach Jimmy Cox. The Ravens’ most recent title was in 2009.
“It helps a lot that we have so much good depth,” Cox said. “Our home-run hitters at the top shot low. We knew we’d need a good fourth score and we got it. Ryan has been on our team since the seventh grade. We’ll miss his play, but we’ll really miss his leadership. We wanted to get the team title for him. He really deserved it.”
Gerard finished second in the individual competition, coming up one shot behind Cannon junior and defending champion Michael Sanders on the second playoff hole. Gerard also finished second as a junior.
“I just kind of scraped it around and kept in in play,” said Gerard, who committed to the Tar Heels in February of his sophomore year. “I wanted to help the team score. I’m just working on being consistent and not making mistakes. It was great to be a part of this team. We had a great bonding experience.”
Both scored par-4 on the 18th hole, which was the first playoff hole, as Gerard saved on an uphill 10-foot putt. But Sanders, who committed to LSU as a freshman, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole at No. 17 after his tee shot had landed on the cart path to claim the title.
“On 17 I kind of pulled the tee shot,” Sanders said. “I took a pitching wedge and bumped it up onto the green and got a little bit of a bounce – I practice that shot a lot for when I get under trees. Then I was fortunate enough to make the putt. I knew it was in about halfway there because I know the read.”
Ravenscroft junior Quinn Riley, a transfer from Athens Drive over the summer, shot a 139 to finish third. Ravens sophomore Kenan Poole shot 141 to make the all-state team while Durham Academy senior Allen Smith, who will play at Hampden-Sydney (Va.) next season, shot a 149 to make finish in the top nine and make all-state.
“I did a lot of grinding,” Riley said. “Up and down for par almost every hole. This was my best for a 36-hole tournament. Playing on this team is awesome, and we all support each other.”
The Ravens’ depth was a big factor, as junior Chase Tickle came in at 154 while freshman Lee Plummer was at 158 and eighth-grader Kyle Kushner finished at 160.
“I got off to a rough start with three bogeys,” Poole said. “But I grinded it out and was better on the back nine. I’ve been doing that a lot this season. This is a great team because we all just support each other and want each other to do well for the team.”
Durham Academy finished in fourth place at 620, two shots behind third-place Charlotte Latin.
“My back nine was better than the front,” Smith said. “But a 35 on the back nine was a good way to finish. And the team was great here.”
Cavaliers freshman Ethan Lukes shot a 152, followed by eighth-grader Jackson Brimfield at 157, junior Gus Lascola at 162, junior Eric Bradford at 173 and seventh-grader William Biersach at 190.
“Our normal No. 4, senior Seth Pruitt, was away on a senior project and so everybody below him moved up one,” said veteran DA coach Greg Murray, whose team won the state title in 2004 and has also coached a pair of state girls’ basketball champions. “It was a good year. We won the city-county tournament. Ravenscroft is crazy good and they’re getting better. I knew they had a shot at winning it.”
Two North Raleigh Christian golfers competed as individuals, with Zach Learned and Josh Lendoch each scoring 162.