Before the week started, Alexandria girls coach Brenard Howard said he would be disappointed if the Lady Cubs finished worse than second in the state tournament at Grand National.
The Lady Cubs reached that goal Tuesday — but only by the slimmest of margins.
Alexandria didn’t play its best golf, but posted a final-round 270 on the Lake Course and held on to finish second by one shot ahead of Bayside Academy. Hartselle ran away with its fourth straight title, posting a two-day total of 474.
Hartselle has won the title every year since Alexandria claimed the crown in 2008.
“We feel good about getting second; this is a tough course,” Howard said. “We knew it was close.”
Meanwhile, both Alexandria boys playing as individuals had tough days. Dalton Chandler shot 83 and Cole McNeal shot 87.
Chandler finished at 158 for the championship, McNeal at 163.
Over two days of golf, any of the Lady Cubs’ 530 shots could have been the difference between bringing back a trophy or going home empty-handed. As it turned out, the defining stroke was a 5-foot downhill putt on the 18th hole by Jessica Howard.
“I knew I had to make it because the other girl from Bayside (Rebecca Todd), we were right there together the whole time,” Jessica Howard said. “I knew I needed to make it to help my team out the best I could considering I didn’t have a good day.”
Howard posted a 103. The Valley Cubs also counted an 82 from ninth-grader Jordan Gregoria and an 85 from senior Madison Williams. Courtney Randle rounded out the lineup with a 107, but her first-round 92 helped Alexandria lay a solid claim on second overnight.
“I knew Jessica felt bad because of her round, but that was a great putt to make not knowing it was for second place,” Brenard Howard said. “That’ll make her feel better.”
Gregoria didn’t putt as well as she did the day before — she recalled at least five three-putts – but she still finished in a three-way tie for third individually at 160. Hartselle’s Arin Eddy (153) and Heather Nail (154) finished 1-2, respectively.
“Today I couldn’t putt and I was in the sand a bunch, but everything else was OK,” Gregoria said. “Yesterday was OK, but today I know I could have done better.”
Williams bounced back from an emotional opening-round 90 and finished 10th overall. She got off to a good start, parring each of her first four holes, then ran into trouble again.
“I’m not happy, of course; it’s kind of a bad way to end your senior year, but I’m a good golfer and played good in a few tournaments. This one tournament doesn’t define who I am as a person.”
On the boys’ side, both Chandler and McNeal got off to rough starts.
The par-5 second got Chandler for the second day in a row and he was 5-over through four holes, but he steadied the ship until back-to-back double bogeys on 13 and 14.
McNeal, meanwhile, never could find the groove. He was 4-over through three holes, lost four more shots before the turn and played the back in 7-over. He had six birdies in the first round, but didn’t make any Tuesday.
“It wasn’t me at all; it was awful,” McNeal said. “I could’ve gone out there and hit a 7-iron — one club — and shot better than that.”
Al Muskewitz covers golf for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.