PRESCOTT – It wasn’t the start Denny Morse had hoped for.
Payson’s golf team found itself tied for 11th place among 16 teams after the first day of the 36-hole Division 3 state tournament last weekend at Antelope Hills Golf Course.
But the Longhorns rebounded on Saturday to finish fifth.
“We found ourselves in a deep, deep hole,” the Payson High coach said. “And we came back with the fourth-lowest round of the day on Saturday.
“I love the way the kids battled. They faced some adversity and kept battling all day. Had we not had the first day we had, we would have been competing for the top three, which was my fondest hope.
“The kids played their hearts out. They worked hard. They never gave up. As a coach I was really proud of their performance.”
After shooting 326 on the South Course on Friday, the Longhorns carded 333 on the more challenging North Course in higher winds on Saturday to finish at 659.
“We were the only team that had a lower score on the North Course than on the South Course,” Morse said.
Defending champion Chandler Valley Christian shot 287-296-583 to beat runner-up Goodyear Estrella Foothills (602) by 19 strokes.
Phoenix Country Day, which led by a stroke after the first round, finished third with 286-320-606. Lakeside Blue Ridge (305-338-643) was fourth.
“Estrella Foothills played well,” Morse said. “Blue Ridge never beat us this year. We beat them by 16 to 20 strokes (in one match). It’s just one of those things. They played well. So you’ve got to hand it to them.”
All the golfers had to battle a strong wind.
“It was more severe the second day,” Morse said. “When you have a course that’s well treed, you don’t see it until the ball gets up 100 to 150 feet above the trees.”
Junior Dean Harpe led the Longhorns. He posted the third-best score of the tournament but wound up fifth based on the scorecard tiebreaker.
Harpe, who finished sixth as a sophomore, shot 69-77-146.
Phoenix Country Day’s Andrew Gardner shot 67-73-140. He won a playoff with Gavin deFisser of Chandler Valley Christian (68-72-140) to claim the individual championship.
Harpe, Horizon Honors’ Chris Senna and Valley Christian’s Trevor Lampson all carded 146s. Senna wound up third and Lampson fourth on the scorecard tiebreaker.
“They go to a scorecard playoff, which is really not legitimate because they don’t let the kids know which holes they’ll use ahead of time,” Morse said.
The coach said Harpe has been a real team leader all season.
“Dean’s leadership has been there all year long,” the coach said. “That’s always been shown in the quality of his play. He is one of the top three of all those golfers in my estimation. He just struggled a little bit on the back nine.
“He was just dynamite with the 69 on the first day in very windy conditions. I’m very proud of the start he gave us.”
Junior Mason Ridley finished tied for 17th with 77-76-153.
“Mason really, really played well,” Morse said.
Junior Ben Myer shot 95-95-190 to finish 89th among the 96 golfers completing both rounds. Senior Tod McCarthy shot 85 for the second round. Freshman Mitchell McGuire carded 89 for the first round. Sophomore Hunter Harrison shot 91 for the first round.
McCarthy is the team’s only senior. So there is reason for optimism moving forward.
“We look forward to the entire team coming back except one,” Morse said. “We’ll be a much stronger team next year if everybody comes back.”
Chandler Valley Christian 287-296-583
Goodyear Estrella Foothills 287-315-602
Phoenix Country Day 286-320-606
Lakeside Blue Ridge 305-338-643
Sedona Red Rock 317-344-661
Yuma Catholic 310-354-664
Fountain Hills 320-347-667
Phoenix Northwest Christ. 324-344-668
Scottsdale Prep 329-342-671
Phoenix Bourgade Catholic 328-344-672
Tanque Verde 334-354-688
Show Low 326-364-690
Scottsdale Christian 327-x-x
Andrew Gardner, Phoenix Country Day 67-73-@140
Gavin deFisser, Chandler Valley Christian 68-72-@140
Chris Senna, Horizon Honors 73-73-*146
Trevor Lampson, Chandler Valley Christian 72-74-*146
Dean Harpe, Payson 69-77-*146
Morgan Gonzales, Phoenix Country Day 71-76-147
Conor O’Neill, Goodyear Estrella Foothills 68-80-*148
Phil Agarwal, Phoenix Bourgade Catholic 68-80-*148
Garrett deFisser, Chandler Valley Christian 75-75-*150
Boston Richardson, Goodyear Estrella Foothills 77-73-*150
Morgan Dupree, Mohave Valley River Valley 72-78-*150
Grady Bourguignon, Yuma Catholic 73-77-*150
T13. Andrew Jones, Scottsdale Christian 76-75-151
T13. RJ David, Chandler Valley Christian 75-76-151
T15. Gregory Sund, Goodyear Estrella Foothills 73-79-152
T15. Jake Utley, Scottsdale Prep 75-77-15
T17. Griffin Peters, Fountain Hills 70-83-153
T17. Mason Ridley, Payson 77-76-153
T17. Kennedie Montoya, Thatcher 71-82-153
T20. Cody Goza, Lakeside Blue Ridge 75-79-154
T20. Ali Hameed, Gilbert Classical 75-79-154
T20. Margaret Loncki, Phoenix Country Day 70-84-154
@-sudden death playoff