Over the course of its run to three straight county titles, Marriotts Ridge has developed a penchant for having its players deliver their best performances in the team’s biggest matches.
On Thursday afternoon at Cattail Creek it was senior Jackson Courtney’s turn.
The Mustangs’ senior fired a career-best round of 31 points (4-under par), tying the Howard County record for most individual points scored in a regular season match, to lead the way for Marriotts Ridge to put up a team score of 104 in a tri-match sweep of Glenelg (74 points) and Wilde Lake (44).
The victory not only keeps Marriotts Ridge (10-0) undefeated this fall, but it clinches at least a share of the county championship for a fourth straight season.
“These guys have never lost, that’s crazy when you really think about it,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs. “Last time we lost a county match was Oct. 8 of 2012 and these guys were eighth graders. What it comes down to is that these guys work so hard and it’s infected the other guys around them. All the kids have bought in and made this a true program.
“No matter who the opponent has been, they’ve been so consistent.”
For Courtney, the magnitude of playing a match Thursday against one of the county’s traditional powerhouse programs in Glenelg (7-3) was not lost on him. He said he put aside the fact that his best round coming in was only 25 points (2-over par) this season and dialed himself in for a day he won’t soon forget.
“In general, I haven’t been playing well for pretty much the whole year in matches at least. But I knew coming into today that it would be important to put up a good number and play well for myself, as well as put a good number up for the team against a team like Glenelg,” Courtney said.
In reality, Marriotts Ridge ended up getting big days from its entire four-player roster to run away with the victory. John Szymanski and David Stephens each fired rounds of 25 points, while Nick Mejia was right behind them with 23.
Hayden Mikk was the top scorer for the Gladiators, finishing with 22 points, and Eric Schneider paced Wilde Lake with 14 points.
But the story of the day was Courtney and he kick-started his round with a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole.
“I hit a great shot in there … and just knocked it in,” he said. “From that point I knew that if I could just stay steady on that trail I could keep posting birdies.”
While it was the finish of the round that had all the fireworks for Courtney, his most important stretch arguably came much earlier. He made back-to-back tough putts for par on his third and fourth holes to, at the time, keeps things going in the right direction.
The comeback 8-footer up the hill on four was particularly big.
“It was huge to knock that par putt in … keep my round going without any bogies,” he said.
After a few more pars, Courtney kicked things into high gear on the seventh hole. He hit his pitch for eagle on the par 5 to within a couple feet and tapped in for birdie. He then followed that up by sinking a 15-foot putt for birdie on the par 3 eighth to move to 3-under-par.
Going to the par 5 ninth hole, the record was suddenly in sight. And, after hitting a solid drive and then a beautiful second shot onto the green, things only became more interesting from there.
“Coming down the last three, I was thinking birdie-birdie-birdie and I would tie the record. But how great would birdie-birdie-eagle be?” Courtney said, recalling his thought process.
The 15-foot eagle putt ultimately just missed, skirting the edge of the hole before settling a foot past. Courtney ended up making that next putt for birdie, tying the record. He said afterward that setting a new career-best score felt rewarding, but he still couldn’t help but think about what might have been.
“I was pretty bummed, but then again I did tie the record and that felt really good to finally get some success,” he said.
Marriotts Ridge closes its regular season next Tuesday at Waverly Woods against Reservoir. A win would secure the county title outright.
Marriotts Ridge 104, Glenelg 74, Wilde Lake 44
MR (10-0): Courtney 31, Stephens 25, Szymanski 25, Mejia 23.
G (7-3): Mikk 22, McAuliffe 19, Forester 18, Writt 15.
WL (2-8): Schneider 14, Wilson 12, Tiffey 7, Swanson 5.
Other boys box scores:
Howard 66, Mt. Hebron 55, Oakland Mills 39
Ho (8-2): Pool 21, Gupta 21, Wheeler 13, Kassiri 11.
MH (6-4): Lloyd 17, Hall 17, Holland 12, Nguyen 9.
OM (1-9): Fairbanks 17, Carroll 12, Clyde 10.
Atholton 62, Reservoir 50, Hammond 35
A (4-5-1): Nguyen 20, Grimsley 18, Noah Chong 13, Nolan Chong 11.
Re (4-6): Goron 16, Gigioli 15, Teodori 11, Lee 8.
Ha (2-8): McDonald 18, Sarich 8, Gaffere 8, Terrasa 1.
Girls box scores:
Howard 72, Mt. Hebron 16, Oakland Mills 4
Ho (10-0): Cherry 26, Harper Lurie 24, Abrams 19, Sagi 3.
MH (4-6): Rathbun 12, Bodziak 2, Doan 1, Milano 1.
OM (2-7-1): Fuentes 2, Claxton 1, Luthardt 1.
Atholton 17, Hammond 8, Reservoir 1
A (4-6): Belden 8, Lechner 7, Wenderoth 2.
Ha (2-8): White 8.
Re (1-8-1): Smith 1.
Marriotts Ridge 44, Glenelg 20, Wilde Lake 16
MR (8-2): McIlvain 16, Quinn 15, Dorsch 13.
G (6-4): Stone 11, George 9.
WL (5-5): Sands 15, Battle 1.