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Leopards end 'Cats' title run

August 21, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

Smithsburg High School snapped through the recent string of team titles held by Williamsport at Black Rock Golf Course on Monday, winning the Washington County Public Schools golf championship.

Williamsport won the previous four crowns, but the Leopards pulled through on a gray, overcast day with a team card of 329, beating the Wildcats by five strokes.

North Hagerstown followed at 351, Boonsboro was next at 369, South Hagerstown had 370 and Clear Spring posted a 377.

"(Williamsport coach Rod Steiner) has had a hold on the title, so it feels good to get one back," said Smithsburg coach Dan Neff. "The key was having good play as a team."

Sophomore Haeun Lee led the Leopards with tournament medalist honors at 3-over-par 75, but Smithsburg got a huge boost from sophomore Chris Bushey, who came in with a 7-over-par 79. Paul Stavrakas posted an 87 and A.J. Minnich added an 88.

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"Lee played well and Bushey has put in a tremendous amount of work," said Neff. "As a team, we shot the kind of numbers we hoped we would. All of the players on this team have been involved in junior golf the entire summer and their work is beginning to pay off.

"We'll continue to grow as a team. We've still got a lot of stairs to climb."

The lowest four individual scores counted in the team standings. Brandon Keefer (90) and Matt Snowden (98) filled out the Smithsburg effort.

Andrew Duff led Williamsport with a 5-over-par 77, Jim Hill (81) topped North Hagerstown, Troy Hartle (85) led Boonsboro, Andrew Mueller (84) was low for South and T.J. Socks (84) was best for Clear Spring.

Duff led the field by two strokes at the turn after a 1-over 37, but he and Lee were tied at 4-over through 14 holes.

Both players moved to 3-over with birdies on the 17th hole. Duff knocked down a 20-footer, only to be followed by Lee draining a 10-foot putt.

Duff pushed his tee shot on 18 to the right and had to play his approach to the green to the far right rough. Lee was on the green in two and then two-putted for par while Duff couldn't get his pitch up and down and ended with a double bogey.

The biggest improvement of all came from Bushey. He knocked 23 strokes off the 102 he shot in last year's county tournament. After a 42 on the front, he came in with a 1-over 37 on the back nine.

"Neff has helped a lot with lessons and encouragement," said Bushey, who has played 36 holes daily for much of the summer. "I just wanted to help the team get the title back. Practice has really helped. I'm farther off the tee, just the whole game is better."

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