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By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- With Sherando locking up the first regional tournament bid for the Northwestern District by finishing in first place during the regular season, only one Region II spot remained, and Millbrook and James Wood were the most likely candidates heading into Tuesday's district tournament at Rock Harbor.
The Pioneers knew they would get the Colonels' best shot, which is why the two 77s from Millbrook's top two golfers, Matt Fazenbaker and Grace Eisenhauer, were that much more important. Those totals gave Millbrook a six-stroke lead over James Wood after both teams' top two golfers reported to the score table.
"I knew that James Wood ... they definitely had the potential to take us out of [the regional tournament] as a team," said Eisenhauer. "So when I came in and saw that, both number one and number two, we beat them by three strokes each ... I was really excited for our team that we actually had a chance."
That lead would hold up for the remainder of the tournament as Millbrook's 329 stroke total would be enough to beat out James Wood by three strokes, giving the Pioneers the remaining Region II berth.
Pioneers' coach Russ Korn is confident his team will take advantage of the opportunity.
"We're going to carry this confidence into regional play," he said. "We've already been [to Old Trail Course] and had a practice round there. We feel like we know the course to a certain degree ... we feel like that's a golf course we can definitely play well at."
Even after the final players recorded their scores, the Pioneers' top two golfers were far from being finished, as they had to compete in a playoff to determine which of the two would be crowned the individual champion of the tournament. It took three holes, plus an unlucky putt from Eisenhauer that rolled around the hole, but Fazenbaker ultimately came out the winner in a hard-fought duel between the two teammates.
"It was nerve-racking, she didn't let me take a breath the whole time -- on every single hole," Fazenbaker said, laughing. "I thought she had it on that second hole when it lipped out. That was a great playoff."
Fazenbaker was also awarded Player of the Year in the district, an award that the district's coaches voted on prior to the tournament, and one the senior is very grateful to have received.
"It's a great honor to win district Player of the Year in my senior year -- it's really special," he said. "It's something that I'll never be able to say again, but I'll always look back on it the rest of my life."
Sherando came in seeking its second consecutive sweep of the district's regular season and tournament titles, and the Warriors did just that as they posted a team score of 323. The Warriors were led by Cameron Wiseman and Cory Hammons, who both shot 79.
"It was awesome," Hammons said of the Warriors' victory. "We all just wanted to come out and play well as a team, but still show them that we can play all year. And even though it's the last tournament, we're still here."
Although James Wood will not be making the trip to the regional tournament next Monday as a team, the Colonels will be well represented as five players qualified individually, led by Kyle Hevner and Will Holmes, who each shot 80 on Tuesday. Skyline's Joe Dawkins grabbed the sixth and final individual spot with his 93.