Region 7-AAA tournament
North Hall 302
Lumpkin County 303
White County 332
West Hall 340
West Forsyth 342
Flowery Branch 362
East Hall 431
There is no leaderboard on display during high school golf tournaments; coaches know how each team is faring, but the players are left in the dark.
So when Johnson, Lumpkin County, Gainesville and North Hall were separated by three strokes after No. 9 during Thursday’s Region 7-AAA golf tournament at Chattahoochee Golf Course, the coaches knew how close the tournament was, but the players just kept on playing and hoping their scores on the back nine would lead their team to a title.
Three of those players shot 35 or less on the back nine, and two of them — North Hall’s Landry Haynes and Jimmy Lloyd — pushed their team to victory.
En route to the individual title, Haynes carded a 33 and Lloyd shot a 35 on the final nine holes to lead North Hall to its third straight region title and its fourth in five years.
Those two scores gave North Hall an aggregate score of 302, which was one shot better than Lumpkin County.
“That one shot...that’s the way golf is,” North Hall coach Robert Mills said. “Landry’s birdie putt on 18 allowed us to win the title.”
That putt also put Haynes one shot ahead of the defending region champion Lloyd and Grant Cagle of Johnson for the individual title. Haynes, who will represent Region 7-AAA during the state tournament, finished with a 70, while Lloyd and Cagle finished with a 71. Gainesville’s Justin Cochran finished third with a 72.
With his top-two golfers shooting in the low 70s, Mills knew that his team had a great chance to repeat as region champions. But with three Lumpkin County golfers still out on the course, a title was not guaranteed.
“I was just apprehensive,” Mills said of his emotions while waiting at the clubhouse. “Sure I got butterflies, but I also understand that there’s nothing I could do. It was all up to the players.”
Those players answered the call as Roger Nash came in with an 82 and Ross Ward turned in an 81 to give the Trojans, who went 2 over on the back nine, a combined score of 302.
Despite Aaron George’s 73, Everett Huntsinger’s 75, Austin Bookard’s 77 and Ben Jarrard’s 78, Lumpkin County came up one shot short of catching North Hall.
“We just tried to do what we could do to get four scores in the 70s,” Lumpkin County coach Jeff Fleming said. “North Hall is the class not only of this league, but of the whole state. It’s not a bad thing finishing second to them.
“It was a pretty classic finish in a great golf region.”
While disappointed in the second-place finish, Fleming is proud that his team qualified for the state tournament.
“Ultimately that was our goal,” he said. “We definitely improved throughout the year.”
Lumpkin’s improvement, along with the consistent play of Johnson and Gainesville made winning this region championship all the more special for Mills.
“This was the toughest one by far,” Mills said. “I knew it would be because when you’re at the top everybody’s shooting for you.
“I’m proud of our kids,” he added. “They responded well to the pressure.”
That was especially the case for the duo of Haynes and Lloyd, and knowing that he has two of the best golfers in the region playing on his team gives Mills nothing but confidence heading into every tournament.
“Having those two makes a whole lot of difference,” Mills said. “If you don’t have some guys that can shoot under par, you’re not going to win much.”
Luckily for Mills, who considers his team’s depth as their biggest strength, he has several golfers that can shoot low on any given day, and he will look for them to continue that when the top-ranked Trojans compete in the Class AAA state tournament May 4 at Waynesboro Golf Course.