From Staff Reports
SUNBURY - East Liverpool's golf team came back with a vengeance on the second day of the Division II state golf tournament on Saturday at the NorthStar Golf Club.
Firing a team score of 317, the Potters managed to climb back up the ranks to finish second behind defending champion Dayton Oakwood.
East Liverpool's second place finish tied Columbiana's second-place finish in 1997 as the best result at the state tournament for a Columbiana County golf team.
"I would have to think that our golf team will go down as one of the best - if not the best - East Liverpool teams in any sport," East Liverpool golf coach Ben Wright said.
Oakwood won the tournament by 31 strokes, but the Potters were only three strokes off Oakwood's second day score of 314.
"We figured we could shoot 310 to 320 coming into the tournament," Wright said. "Friday we shot 331 and the kids were really disappointed in that. (Saturday) we played a lot more like we have been all season."
Individually, senior Blake Prince shook off a rough first day to card a second-round best 72. He totaled 150 for the tournament and finished tied for fourth with Middletown Bishop Fenwick's Miles Jena and Eaton's Cameron Willis. Willis was the defending Division II champion.
"Blake is one of the best high school golfers I've been around," Wright said. "He had a goal of shooting 72 today and thought that if he shot a bit lower he would have a chance at possibly winning the tournament."
Oakwood's Tripp French took medalist honors with a two-day total of 146. He shot 73 both days.
Senior Joey Cilone showed the most improvement for the Potters as he bettered his first day total of 88 by 15 strokes to finish with a 161 for the tournament. He finished tied for 16th overall.
"We were not that surprised by his turnaround," Wright said. "What's more surprising is how he played on Friday. He's usually around 73 and 74, and we expected that on Saturday. He had an outstanding round."
Sophomore Isaac Davidson followed up his first day score of 83 with an 85 to total 168 to tie for 34th place. Rounding out the Potters were senior Ryian Burson tied for 50th with a (82-93) 175 and senior Matt Hilditch was 66th with a (101-87) 188.
"The kids couldn't be happier," Wright said. "They had a goal of jumping these other teams to try to get into second place and they did just that."
Oakwood's two-day total of 617 is the third-best team score in Division II tournament history. Oakwood has won four of the past five years and five overall, the first coming in 1985.
Div. II State Golf Tournament
NorthStar Golf Club
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Dayton Oakwood (303-314) 617, 2. East Liverpool (331-317) 648, 3. St. Francis DeSales (329-321) 650, 4. Canton Central Catholic (326-325) 651, 5. Lancaster Fairfield Union (331-321) 652, 6. Chardon Notre Dame Cathedral Latin (334-333) 667, 7. Middletown Bishop Fenwick (342-328) 670, 8. Lima Bath (343-330) 673, 8. Bloom-Carroll (343-330) 673, 10. Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (337-338) 675, 11. Bellevue (338-338) 676, 12. Washington Courthouse (360-343) 703.