Blackburn, Lady Flashes come out on top at Red & Gold Invitational

Published 8:48 am Thursday, April 13, 2017

FLOWOOD — The members of St. Aloysius’ girls golf team broke out into surprised smiles, laughs, and then absolute glee as the numbers were scrawled on the scoreboard. The picture they painted as they slowly but surely emerged was one the Lady Flashes hadn’t been expecting at all.

Not only had they had a good day, they’d had their best day.

Caton Blackburn shot a 93 to take medalist honors, and Elizabeth Keen’s 110 gave St. Al their first team tournament victory of the season Wednesday at the Red & Gold Invitational at Castlewoods Country Club.

“It’s unbelievable. I’ve been playing golf for two years, so it means a lot to me. It’s actually my lowest score ever to achieve, so it means a lot,” said Blackburn, an eighth-grader.

Chandler Tucker shot a 113 for the Lady Flashes, but only the top two individual scores count toward the team score. St. Al beat Northwest Rankin by eight shots. Brandon was third with 222, Pearl fourth with 224, and Choctaw Central fifth with 235.

Blackburn beat Northwest Rankin’s Cecilia Bruce by three shots for the individual crown. They were the only two golfers in the 17-person field to break 100.

“I was hitting it more solid. The putts were falling. It was just a good day,” Blackburn said. “I’m pretty speechless right now.”

While St. Al’s girls left Castlewoods happy, it was a mixed bag for the Warren County teams playing in the boys’ tournament that was contested alongside the girls’.

For Warren Central, the tournament was as much a scouting mission as a competition. The team — and many of the golfers in the field — had never played at the difficult Castlewoods course before, but they’ll have to return there in two weeks for the Region 2-6A tournament and will need to shoot 365 or better to qualify for the Class 6A state tournament.

Warren Central’s lowest score on Wednesday was an 87 by Reed Buys, but their team score of 360 was right where coach Matt Williams was hoping it would be for playing a course sight unseen.

“We have to break 365 when we come back on the 24th, so that’s what we’re looking for. We’re going to be close to it. Hopefully we’ll be under it. But this is the first time we’ve played this course and we played from the back markers. It was a longer course today than what we’ve been used to, so maybe we got the bugs worked out and we can have a good showing on the 24th,” Williams said. “We’re using this as prep work for getting ready. We can learn from what we did today.”

Warren Central finished eighth out of nine teams competing in the boys’ tournament. It was two shots better than Clinton to stay out of the cellar.

After Buys, Taylor Lampkin shot an 89, Hartley Sullivan a 91, Chance Bishop a 93, Graham Tweedle a 94 and Zane Flaharty a 99.

“Hartley had a good stretch of holes, and then I guess the inexperience of being a seventh-grader popped up. He doubled a couple of holes in a row and tripled, which will hurt a score. But he was holding his own,” Williams said. “Reed was mid-80s again today, which is what we were looking for. Chance was a little off today from his last couple of rounds, but I think he was trying to figure out the course. Same thing with Zane. Hopefully they’ll use this as a learning experience.”

St. Aloysius was fifth in the team standings, with its top four golfers totaling 346 strokes. Channing Curtis led the Flashes with a 79, Joseph Cranfield and Phillip Upshaw both shot 88, Wilson Palmertree shot 91, and Brandon Teller a 96.

Curtis, who won his first two tournaments this season, birdied the first hole and then slogged through the next 17. He made six bogeys, one triple bogey, and generally struggled while battling a cold and a rough day on a tough course. He finished in a tie for 10th place.

“I just wasn’t hitting the ball good at all. Couldn’t putt to save my life. I think I made one putt today outside of a foot. It was bad,” Curtis said. “It was a bad day and then not feeling too well, kind of sick, it just brought up a lot of pain. I had some opportunities to make some birdies down the stretch and just didn’t do it.”

Madison Central, led by medalist Brice Wilkinson, crushed the field to win the team trophy with a score of 295. That was 31 shots better than runner-up Northwest Rankin, and Wilkinson’s individual margin of victory seemed even bigger.

Wilkinson shot a 67 to win by seven strokes over Northwest Rankin’s Ryan Bell. Madison Central’s Benjamin Nelson was third, with a 75, and a total of 10 golfers broke 80. Four of them were from Madison Central.
Germantown was third in the team standings with a score of 329, and was followed by Brandon (339), St. Al (346), Northwest Rankin’s second team (349), Pearl (358), Warren Central (360) and Clinton (362).

St. Al and Warren Central will return to friendlier turf for their next tournament, when they play in the Warren Central Invitational next Wednesday at the Vicksburg Country Club.

RED & GOLD INVITATIONAL
Girls team scores
1. St. Aloysius………………………………. 203
2. Northwest Rankin…………………..211
3. Brandon …………………………………..222
4. Pearl…………………………………………224
5. Choctaw Central…………………….235

Boys team scores
1. Madison Central………………………203
2. Northwest Rankin No. 1…………326
3. Germantown…………………………..329
4. Brandon ………………………………….339
5. St. Aloysius……………………………….346
6. Northwest Rankin No. 2…………349
7. Pearl…………………………………………358
8. Warren Central……………………….360
9. Clinton…………………………………….362

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest