High School Sports

Dunbar, LCA head to state tourney

Hunter Stewart was the last golfer standing as dusk arrived at the boys' regional tournament at the University Club of Kentucky on Tuesday.

The Lexington Christian Academy sophomore had to be mentally and physically spent after grinding out 24 holes in what was supposed to be an 18-hole competition.

But Stewart's reaction after beating Paul Dunbar sophomore Will Bishop in a five-hole playoff to win medalist honors?

"It was fun," he said.

"But the team is the most important thing, so it would've been fine if Will had won because our team is going to the state again."

Before Stewart and Bishop, who shot even-par 72s, had their playoff, they were part of another playoff to determine the team title.

LCA and Dunbar tied for first with 304 totals, edging Henry Clay by five shots.

Dunbar prevailed in the one-hole playoff to repeat as regional champ.

Both teams advance to the state tournament in Bowling Green next week.

"We were kind of underdogs coming in today because we had lost to LCA and Henry Clay the past four tournaments," Dunbar senior Zack Butler said.

"It was pressure-packed out there, but we came through nicely. This is a huge victory for us."

Bishop's 72 led the Bulldogs. Butler and Tanner Mobley had 77s, Charlie Schaffer a 78 and Brandon Collier an 81.

"We're defending (region) champs," Dunbar Coach Brad Bachand said. "And it's more fun to defend than to finish second."

LCA, which made its first-ever trip to the state last year, was led by Stewart's 72, followed by Blanton Farmer's 76, Hager Collins' 77, Hunter Frazier's 79 and Taylor Combs' 83.

"We knew it'd be tough to get to state two years in a row, so it's a big deal for us to do it," Frazier said.

LCA Coach Bo Starnes thought his team showed its grit by surviving what he considers the toughest region in the state on one of the most difficult courses in Kentucky.

Starnes wasn't surprised Stewart was medalist.

"Hunter has amazing resolve," the coach said, "and he showed it today."

Stewart was 3-under after 14 holes, but bogeyed three of the last four. A few minutes later, in the team playoff, he took a nine on the par-4 18th. (His team didn't have to count his score.)

"That was pretty funny," he said. "It was hard to come back from that, but the Lord helped me through."

As if to underscore how competitive this region is, there was a third playoff to determine the last individual state qualifier.

Scott County teammates Kyle Wilshire and Adam Venci each shot 74 to earn two of the three spots. Henry Clay's Preston French beat Clark County's Michael Martin in a two-hole playoff to take the last spot.