MONTGOMERY — Area golfers played well, but fell just short at the Country Oaks Regional hosted by Washington High School on Thursday in Montgomery.
The event ended up being a battle between Evansville North and Castle, as the defending state champion North Huskies posted a 297 to Castle's 301, while Plainfield also advanced with a 307. Park Tutor was in the hunt with a 310 until North's score came in. Also playing well was Mater Dei at 319.
The individual medalist was Kasey Lilly of Plainfield who shot a blistering 67, while Ben Hoagland of Memorial was second with a 69. Nathan Hoss of North shot 70 to round out the top three.
The Washington Hatchets, who were in their first regional since 2016, posted a very respectable 336, which was right in the target-range coach Trey Miller thought they might shoot. As a team they finished ninth, finishing ahead of both sectional teams South Knox (340) and Wood Memorial at 349.
They were led again by sophomore Zach Gray with an 80, while Dom DePass shot an 82, Brock Melton shot an 85 and senior Zane Meinhart added an 89. Also playing but not scoring was freshman Simon Parson at 94.
"We said at the start of the day that our goal was to get something in the 330s. Our other goal was to compete, and I feel like we competed all day. I am really proud of the boys. They didn't give up and that's all I can ask," said WHS coach and Country Oaks General Manager Trey Miller.
"Hopefully we can bring this team back, but we have to put in the work, and we have to play all summer. I think getting to regional left a good taste in everyone's mouth, and I also think Zane left a good foundation for us to build upon.
"Zach (Gray) really battled all day. He didn't let his front nine define him. On the back he had three birdies and ended up shooting a 38."
Gray added, "It was tougher, but I think I had more focus playing with better players. It really forces you to pay attention. I think I learned from it and will be ready next year."
Washington Catholic senior Brock Craney finished off his high school career with a 78, which was actually a stroke lower than his sectional score, and played on the more difficult Par 72 Country Oaks.
"I came off the tracks a little bit on the front nine where I had a pair of double bogeys back-to-back and that might have made the difference," said Craney.
"I felt like I reeled it back in after that. I'm sad to see it end here but I'm looking forward to college golf.
"Even with the extra distance I was proud to shoot and play better than at sectional. I know I have to keep working, but you have to move on."
Miller added that he was impressed with Craney's round.
"Watching him play over at the years here, I have seen him work hard and develop. We all wish him the best of luck at Vincennes University," Miller added.
The State Finals will be at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, on Tuesday, June 11, and Wednesday, June 12. The top three teams and top five not advance with a team moved on.