Tupelo wants to defend its state championship while New Albany is looking to win one.
Both teams took giant steps in meeting their postseason goals with their play last week in the annual Palmetto High School Golf Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The two Northeast Mississippi squads qualified for the 15-team championship flight of the 72-team event played Thursday through Saturday.
Tupelo, the state’s defending 5A champion, placed fifth overall with a two-day, 36-hole score of 656, 40 strokes behind tournament champion Pinewood (N.C.) Prep while New Albany finished 13th with a 674 score.
“This was a good tournament to gain experience in leading up to the state tournament,” said Tupelo coach Mark Enis, whose team participated in the tournament for a fifth straight season. “Our goal was to be in the championship flight and compete for the championship.”
New Albany, a second-place finisher in last season’s 4A state tournament, took a senior-powered team on its first trip to the tournament.
“I think having three seniors helped us,” New Albany coach Robert Garrett said. “I’m proud of my guys. They played well and had an experience they’ve never had.”
West leads the way
Tupelo freshman Noah West shot a 2-over par 74 in the second round to give him a two-day total of 159 and a 13th-place finish.
His Golden Wave teammate and fellow freshman, Wilson Reeder, shot a two-day 162 and tied for 17th with two of New Albany’s seniors, Sam Cooper and Tucker Holmes.
“Noah and Wilson are two young guys, but they’re experienced young guys,” Enis noted. “They both did good jobs hanging in there.”
Also for Tupelo, senior Bo Reed was tied for 34th with a 167 and sophomore Fletcher Johnson recorded a 169 to tie for 41st. Tucker Napier, a junior, finished with a 174.
Johnson’s 1-under 71 in Thursday’s qualifying round helped land the Golden Wave in the championship flight.
Tupelo hosts the division tournament April 21, then plays the state tournament May 6-7 at Madison’s Reunion Country Club.
Also for the Bulldogs, junior Laden Stanford recorded a 171, senior Austin Holt a 181 and junior Blake Conlee a 186.
“We started the year slow, but they started playing like I thought they’d play in this tournament,” Garrett said.
New Albany has won its division title the last two seasons, and along with its second-place showing at state last year, was a third-place finisher in 2007.
The 4A state tournament is scheduled for May 12-13 at River Birch in Amory.
Gene Phelps/Daily Journal