Early-season wins may not mean much in the grand scheme of the high school golf season, but the confidence that comes with those rounds does.
The Maryville boys posted a 162 while the girls scored an 83 to secure a pair of victories over Alcoa and Heritage on Thursday at Lambert Acres. The Alcoa boys tallied a 173 while Heritage recorded a 176. The Lady Mountaineers finished four strokes behind the Lady Rebels with an 87.
“Golf is all about confidence,” Maryville coach Mike Driver told The Daily Times. “We’re just hoping to get a little bit better each week and hopefully peak around the district tournament.”
The Rebels posted the low score with a consistent effort from top to bottom. No. 2 Riley Orr carded a team-best 3-over 39 while No. 3 Haysen Haynes, No. 5 Brady Orr and No. 1 Nick Talley shot 40, 41 and 42, respectively.
Heritage’s Reid Woods and Alcoa’s Bryce Barber, who replaces former state champion Braedon Wear as the Tornadoes’ No. 1, both recorded the best individual rounds of the match with a pair of 37s.
Andrew Hoffman supplemented Woods’ performance with a 41, Jet Murrell scored a 47 and Aidan Fagan and Cayden Grant each shot 51.
“We expect Reid to do that every round, but we have to find somebody to go along with Reid,” Heritage coach Steve Williams said. “Andrew had a nice round today, but we need a couple others to step up.”
“Sitting behind Gabe (Hunter) and Braedon (Wear the last couple of years) has helped (Bryce) a lot, but what has also helped him is how much he has played this offseason,” Alcoa coach Rob Daugherty said. “He played in so much tournament golf this summer that it had to help him eventually. He’s been playing really well.”
The Tornadoes, however, are searching for a little bit more out of the golfers behind Barber. Riley Parsons posted Alcoa’s second-best score with a 43 while Ryan Whitson shot a 45 and Zack Borden and Will Morrow each posted a 48.
Alcoa was upset by Kingston in the Region 2-A/AA Tournament and will have to contend with the Yellow Jackets again this season for a team berth in the state tournament.
“We’ve got a couple of young kids that are coming into form and we have some experience, but we’re just going to have to play through this early season funk,” Daugherty said. “I’m really kind of disappointed because we didn’t play very well. We could play 10 to 15 shots better than what we did today, and we will, it’s just going to take a little bit of time.”
Heritage has similar hopes for its girls program, which has eight golfers who all shoot in the same range.
Tori Holder posted the Lady Mountaineers’ best score with a 42 but it did not count toward the team score because she was not listed as one of Heritage’s top-3 golfers. Hannah Smelcer paced that group with a 43 while Sarah Whitehead and Emma Whitehead both shot a 44.
“We have about eight girls shooting about the same score and they’re going up and down,” Williams said. “Our best score came from somebody who wasn’t in our top-3 today (Tori Holder). We have to work that out and get more consistent, but they have a have a chance to be really good this year.”
The Maryville girls are looking to replace Ainsley Simms and Bevin Harrell, with Driver saying it is less of a rebuild and more trying to find leadership as they attempt to claim one of the three spots in the region.
Madison Atchley posted a 41 for the Lady Rebels and Parker Miller added a 42.
“The biggest thing is I want our players to have confidence,” Driver said. “They’ll go out and swing a lot better if they just let it go instead of trying to guide it, and hopefully around Labor Day we’ll be doing that.”