Prep Golf: Lady Panthers capture third straight state title
The Ledford girls golf team could sense it was taking control midway through Tuesday’s round at Foxfire Resort & Golf Club’s Red Fox course.
Carrying a six-shot lead into the final round, the Panthers played another balanced round to steadily pull away from their nearest competitors and capture their third straight NCHSAA 3-A state championship.
"It feels great,” said coach John Ralls, who has won 13 state titles in four sports. “I’m happy for every one of these girls. Every one of them has put in lots of time, a lot of hard work. You’ve got to understand how much time and energy they’ve put into it to be here — and they do it.”
Ledford, which shot 250 for the best round Monday, fired 248 for the best round Tuesday for a two-day total of 498 — 29 shots clear of second-place Northern Guilford (256-271—527) and West Henderson (259-268—527).
Senior Meghan Holbrooks, after shooting 76 on Monday, finished with an 82 for a 158 total to lead the Panthers individually and take fifth overall. Senior Lexi Kershaw improved 12 shots from her Monday round to shoot 77 for a 166 total.
Junior Julia Carroll provided the final counting score for the team at No. 3 with a solid 85-89—174 total. Sophomore Jordan Young followed with a 93-96—189 in her first state championship appearance.
“I can’t even describe it right now,” said Holbrooks, who was also awarded the NCHSAA’s sportsmanship award for the championship team, with a broad smile. “We’ve had a lot a practice, a lot teamwork, and we just put it together when it mattered. ...
“We knew Lexi would take care of her girls, and we knew Julia and I could take care of our girls. We just came in playing it one shot at a time, and that’s what we did. When we started taking the turn, I think that’s when we knew we had a hold of the state championship.”
Siranon Shoomee of Lee County, who was in second following Monday’s round, shot 76-73—149 to overtake overnight leader Ashley Sloup of South Brunswick, who shot 75-75—150 to finish second, to win the individual state title.
Cardinal Gibbons was fourth in the team scores with 536, while Terry Sanford was fifth with 547, followed by Union Pines (555), Northwood (566), Fike (578), East Gaston (578), Enka (580) and South Brunswick (585).
Paired with their counterparts from Northern Guilford and West Henderson, Ledford’s top three could sense how things were going. They played well throughout and remained composed when they had to, posting three nine-hole scores in the 30s and five others in the 40s and putting them well in control.
“The fortunate thing about having depth was that (Kershaw, Holbrooks and Carroll) covered for each other all year long,” Ralls said. “We had three different kids as medalists, and it could be any one of them any match. That’s the key to doing the whole thing — having the depth of three players.”