ELBERTON — It was the best-ever finish for the North Hall girls golf team.
However, they are sure to wonder what could have been over the two-day, 36-hole Class 3A state tournament at Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course that finished in the blistering heat on Tuesday.
The Lady Trojans fired a two-day total 503, which was good for second place and just three shots off the pace of Pierce County’s 500 winning total. They finished 60 shots ahead of third place, and 2018 champion, Rutland (563).
But North Hall came into the event with the low qualifying round in Area play in Class 3A and also had sophomore Mikayla Dubnik, who was considered among the favorites for the individual title. They wanted more.
“We definitely came in thinking we had a chance to win it,” Dubnik said. “We feel good about second place but we also know we left some shots out there. I think as a team we’ve really improved a lot during the season so I’m excited about getting ready for next year.”
Dubnik, meanwhile, finished in a tie for second for the individual title with Pierce County’s Sloan Lanier after firing a two-day 152. Neither could catch now-two-time defending state champion Tori Owens of Murray County (Kennesaw State-signee) who carded a 145.
“It’s nice to finish second but I definitely left some shots out there. I had trouble around the greens and didn’t make some putts I thought I should,” Dubnik said.
North Hall came into the final round trailing Pierce County by seven strokes in the team competition. They shaved two strokes off the lead after the first nine holes and when junior Lyric Sanford rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 14, they pulled within two shots of the lead.
Sanford and junior Willow Hill trimmed 15 shots off their Day 1 totals to help fuel the comeback. Sanford’s 84 on Tuesday was a career-low. Hill shot an 86.
“I felt like I was playing pretty good but I knew things were going good when I made that putt,” Sanford said. “My putting was a lot better today and that was the difference.”
North Hall coach Rodney House was unable to attend Tuesday’s finale due to his son having surgery in Atlanta and Sanford said that was something the entire team had on their minds.
“We were thinking about coach and what he was going through. We wanted to do well for him and I think that was a positive out there for us,” Sanford said.
Standing in for House was cross country coach Sam Borg, who said he noticed a different feel from Monday. The Lady Trojans shot a Day 2-best 245 on Tuesday in the 13-team field.
“They played much better (Tuesday). They were more relaxed and focused I thought,” Borg said. “Lyric bombed in that putt and I thought right there they were going to come all the way back. But the Pierce girls made some big shots over the final few holes to keep the lead.
“But to set a program record finish I think is outstanding. They learned a lot today about playing in a 36-hole event, which was a first for them. Rodney is doing a great job with this program. They arrived this year and I think they’re only going to get better. They’ll be a fun group to watch.”
The top three scorers for North Hall on Tuesday -- Dubnik, Sanford, and Hill -- all will be back next season. They lose just Annika Cain, who was in the scoring mix on Monday.
For other northeast Georgia area teams involved, Jefferson finished ninth (623) with Dawson County and East Jackson finishing in a tie for 10th with identical 654 scores.
In the individual tournament, Sanford finished in a career-best ninth place with a 174 total.