Two Hamilton Southeastern golfers shot sub-70 rounds as the Royals bested 14 other teams, including defending local sectional champion Harrison, at the Lafayette Jeff Varsity Booster Invitational at Coyote Crossing Saturday afternoon.
Harrison topped the local teams in the tournament, finishing seventh with a score of 329. McCutcheon tied for ninth place with a 334, while Jeff closed its round with a 383. Four teams entered the tournament ranked in the state’s top 20 — No. 9 Hamilton, No. 10 Noblesville, No. 11 Crown Point and No. 19 Zionsville.
Johnny Watts shot a four-under-par 66 and teammate Graham McAree a 69 to finish one-two individually. That was too much for other teams to compete with. Fellow Hoosier Crossroads Conference foe Zionsville was second with a 298 and another HCC competitor, Noblesville, was third with 312.
Harrison coach Dave Schneider said he had hoped for a stronger performance from his Raiders, especially against some of the best teams in the HCC.
“We’re better than that,” Schneider said of his team’s score. “It’s probably a good score today, but we need to cut a few strokes off if we plan to compete in sectionals and conference. We had a few kids have some bad holes and didn’t come back from them right away. That tends to build on you.”
The Raiders’ Alex Krauss shot the best score of all local golfers with a 78. He also had the best nine-hole score, shooting a 37 on the back nine, just four strokes off Watt’s pace on the closing holes.
“The wind was pretty tough and competitive out there,” Krauss said. “I just tried to chug along and get good scores. What we have to do now is improve on our short game. If we can get up and down from anywhere, you can score well.”
Krauss said doing well against Lafayette Jeff and McCutcheon is critical when you are trying to build momentum for sectional play.
“Playing against them today was really important,” Krauss said. “We’ll be playing sectionals on close to the same course. This gives us some confidence.”
McCutcheon golf coach Avery Boaz said yesterday was a confidence booster for the Mavericks as well. He said his team’s score was their best of the season. In fact, McCutcheon’s front nine score of 161 was one shot better than Harrison’s 162 at the turn.
“This was by far our best,” Boaz said. “We shot really well on the front nine, but the wind got to us on the back nine. This is Harrison’s home course, so we’re spotting them a few strokes there. We missed a lot of birdies and par putts today. If we can start making those, we’ll be in the 320s.”
Jeff coach Geoff Salmon said his team needs to build consistency over the next few weeks leading up to sectionals.
“We just shot a 340 at Brownsburg, but it was just a rough day for us,” Salmon said. “I think we’ll bounce back and get better. This is the second time we’ve played here, so we haven’t seen this course a lot. It’s a little soft, so it played longer than normal. If we can find consistency, we can compete.”