High School Sports

Panther Creek wins Southwest Wake Athletic boys’ golf tournament, Green Hope wins season crown

Panther Creek’s Viraj Garawel hits a drive during the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference boys golf tournament at Lochmere Golf Club in Cary, NC Monday April 28, 2014.
Panther Creek’s Viraj Garawel hits a drive during the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference boys golf tournament at Lochmere Golf Club in Cary, NC Monday April 28, 2014. newsobserver.com

Green Hope didn’t need to win the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference boys’ golf tournament to seal a 12th straight season title, but the Falcons wish they had pulled off the double feat at Lochmere Golf Club on Monday.

Instead, the Falcons were stopped just short by Panther Creek’s first conference tournament title in school history. The Catamounts shot 296, edging runner-up Athens Drive (297) and Green Hope (299).

But overall it was a good day for Green Hope as it placed five golfers on the all-conference list – Mike Siek, Kevin Wiles, Timmy Leonard, Brian Chen and Zack Daltorio – which is formed by ranking each player’s strokes-per-nine-hole average on the year.

“We need to focus on 18 holes – every shot. Sometimes we’d shoot a double bogey and it would take three or four holes to get back into the right frame of mind. We have to stay focused on every shot,” Green Hope coach Mike Robinson said. “They know how to play, their confidence level sometimes gets down.”

Panther Creek finished second in the regular season standings a year after being last in a nine-team league.

“The guys played for each other instead of being individuals (this year). I think in the past everybody worried about their own scores. If they didn’t hit it well they didn’t care and they’d chunk the last few holes instead of (thinking) ‘I’ve got to get at least par to get my teammates involved,’ ” said Nate Denton, who was voted SWAC coach of the year by his peers. “That chemistry between freshmen and seniors was huge.”

SWAC player of the year Tim Conover, an East Carolina recruit, fired a 2-under round of 69. Like three other times this season, Conover (35.8 average) had to tie for medalist – this time with Athens Drive’s Eric Bae.

This is Conover’s second time winning conference player of the year, the other coming as a sophomore. He shot a 4-under on the back nine holes.

“It’s great, especially going out my senior year. There was a lot of people right there close to me,” Conover said.

“This year was a really competitive year. A lot of people were shooting really good scores.”

Athens Drive sophomore Eric Bae (36.4) finished runner-up to Conover for the conference’s player of the year award race.

“I kept my head down and just played golf. Even if some bad stuff happened, I didn’t really freak out over it,” said Bae, a sophomore.

Five other players shot a 1-under 70 on Monday – Athens Drive’s Kevin Campbell, Cary’s Barrett Fitzmorris and Michael Ehrlickman, Panther Creek’s Viraj Garawell and Middle Creek’s Carter Thompson.

It was like that all year in the SWAC, where Conover shared medalist titles four times including the tournament. Eleven different golfers won medalist honors, including a four-way tie for first in week six.

The top four teams in the SWAC – Green Hope, Panther Creek plus third-place Holly Springs and fourth-place Athens Drive – qualified for next week’s 4A Mideast regional at the Raleigh Country Club.

So too did the top four individuals not on those top four teams – Middle Creek’s Thompson (39.1), Cary’s Ehrlickman (37.5) and Fitzmorris (39.3) and Fuquay-Varina’s Thomas Williams (38.3).

The all-conference list, starting with the lowest stroke average was: Conover, Bae, Garawel, Ehrlickman, Campbell, Siek, Wiles, Leonard, Williams, Panther Creek’s Alex Scott, Chen, Daltorio and Thompson.