Needing a big effort to earn an outright league title, the Palm Desert High School boys’ golf team put together a championship day.
“It’s good for the team that we got this (Desert Valley League) win,” Palm Desert head coach Kurt Ney said after the Aztecs scored a 179-194 win over the La Quinta Blackhawks, clinching the DVL title for the year. “When we have the two teams we are competing against, Xavier and La Quinta, they all come to the game. You just don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”
Thursday on the front nine of the Firecliff Course at Desert Willow Golf Club, it turned out right for the Aztecs. The win allowed Palm Desert to finish 9-1 in league – the one loss coming earlier to La Quinta. Xavier Prep finished league with two losses, both to Palm Desert, while La Quinta was third with three losses – two to Xavier and one to Palm Desert.
Had La Quinta won Thursday, the three times would have tied with two losses each.
“They played great,” La Quinta coach John Shelden said of Palm Desert’s 1-under team score. “It seems like we bring the best out in everybody. They obviously played under par today. They played great. We didn’t have our best day but when somebody shoots that good a round, that’s tough.”
La Quinta was led by Charlie Reiter, who fired three birdies and one bogey for a 2-under 34. Three Aztecs, Casey Scott, Jake Vincent and Chase Cadwallader, matched par-36, while Derrick Liu shot 37. Ben Lewis’ 39 was not counted in the six-play, five-count format.
“Kind of during the middle, once we lost against LQ (earlier in the year) we kind of just like, we needed to refocus,” Reiter said of the DVL season. “We were losing our focus – not as strong as we were at the beginning of the year. We just kind of reset it and finished it off.”
For La Quinta, senior Grant Calender matched Reiter’s 34 for medalist honors on the day. Michael Choma shot 37, Isaac Calderson shot 40, Nick Conoway shot 41 and Daniel Krause of Mark Williams each shot 42. It was the second loss of the week for La Quinta, which fell to Xavier Tuesday. But as Shelden pointed out, his team could have parred every hole Thursday and still lost by a shot to the strong Palm Desert effort.
With the league title won, Palm Desert, along with Xavier Prep and La Quinta, can look toward CIF-SS individual and team competition. Ney likes the kind of depth his team showed Thursday in beating La Quinta.
“If we can get three or four of our guys shooting right around par in our CIF run, that would be wonderful,” Ney said. “I think that will help us. And that first round (CIF-Southern Section regional) is going to be critical, because only two teams advance from that.”
“Right now I think we are pretty confident; we’re all playing really good. Today is a good example of how we should play,” Reiter said.
For Shelden, the two league losses this week don’t dim his confidence in his team as postseason play approaches.
“We need to play better than we have this week, but I’ll take these six guys and play anybody anytime,” Shelden said. “I believe in them. They need to believe in themselves a bit more maybe.”