TUCSON — State golf tournament participants have two options when it comes to winning a state title: Individual medalist or team champion.
Red Mountain’s young-but-highly-skilled lineup of golfers chose to shirk personal dreams to focus on the team, and it worked big as the Lions won the school’s first boys golf state title since 2002.
The Lions collectively shot 6-under par on Saturday during the final round of the Division I state tournament at Randolph North Golf Course. They moved past first-day leader Desert Vista to win the championships by four strokes with a two-day score of 573 in the first year of the new division realignment for individual sports.
Desert Vista has finished second in back-to-back years, shot 1-under 287 on Saturday but saw No. 1 golfer Sean Buchanan come in 4-over-par after shooting a 71 on Friday.
“It was just one of those days where you have trouble getting those putts to fall,” Desert Vista coach Paige Peterson said. “We had some guys who went low, and some guys who were a little off.”
Desert Vista’s Cody McManus tied for second at 5-under 139 while Matthew Liringis shot a 4-under 140 to take fourth. Red Mountain's Kolton Lapa and Zach Wright of Pinnacle tied for fifth at 141.
Mountain Pointe, one of the favorites coming into the event, shot 1-under as a team Saturday but was done in by a 11-over in the opening round.
The Pride's lower scorer was Ben Potter, who tied for 10th at 1-under 143. Michael Anderson was next at 2-over 146 to tie for 17th.
Red Mountain was so efficient on Saturday that even its fourth-best score was an even-par 72, shot by Brett Wilson. That was combined with a 1-under 71 by Colton West, a 2-under 70 by Lapa and 3-under 69 by Marley Sweeny.
“That’s the best we’ve shot as a team all year,” Red Mountain coach Rich Hamilton said. “Going into the final round we said we needed to post three scores under par to win this, and that’s just what we did.”
Sweeny, the Lions’ only senior, said he and his teammates took advantage of playing alongside golfers from their closest competitors in Saturday’s final groupings.
“It’s easier to see where you’re at when you’re playing your opponents,” said Sweeny, who finished tied for seventh individually at 2-under 142. “We knew, after Friday, we had put ourselves in a position to win. Golf is all about putting yourself in position after the first day.”
Pinnacle finished third with a team score of 577. Five-time defending champion (in 5A Division I) Hamilton was fourth (580) and the Pride was fifth (586).
Sierra Vista Buena’s Colin McCarty was the individual champion, following up Friday’s 7-under 65 with a 1-under 71 to finish at 136, three shots better than Desert Vista’s Cody McManus and Tucson Salpointe Catholic’s Ricky Lee.
In the girls DIvision I tournament, Desert Vista finished 12th and Mountain Pointe tied for 16th at Dell Urich Golf Course in Tucson.
Hamilton ran away with the title by 22 strokes with a 2-over 562 with Phoenix Xavier next at 24-over 586.
The Thunder's Kassidy Long-Goheen finished 30th for the best individual performance with a 22-over 162. Mountain Pointe's Darian Spivey tied for 31st at 23 over.
Jason P. Skoda contributed to this story.