During Marriotts Ridge’s run to what is now a county-record 65 straight league wins, Mustangs’ coach Mark Dubbs has learned that the key to success is finding clutch performances in sometimes unexpected places.
On Tuesday afternoon at a rain-soaked Timbers at Troy golf course against previously undefeated Centennial and River Hill, it was Justin Allen’s turn to be the hero.
The Marriotts Ridge sophomore, who came in averaging just over 20 points a match, delivered a career-high 24 points (3-over par) to lead the way to a thrilling tri-match sweep that keeps the team undefeated on the season. The Mustangs put up 79 points, edging runner-up River Hill by one and Centennial by 16.
“Looking back over the years, at all the big matches we’ve won, there’s always been that one player that steps up and makes the difference. Today that player was Justin Allen,” Dubbs said. “Playing out of the three spot, he really carried us. And it’s one of those things where he picked the perfect time to have his best match … because as you saw we needed every single one of those points.”
With just one match left on the schedule, Marriotts Ridge is assured of at least a share of the program’s sixth straight county team championship.
Allen, who closed his round by playing the last four holes in even par, said it’s special being able to continue the program’s tradition — especially by having to pull out such a tight victory.
“It means a lot to be in line to win another county title because you know I wasn’t here for the first [three years],” Allen said. “[Today] it came down to the last couple shots from everyone.”
Both River Hill (9-1) and Centennial (6-2) had their share of highlights over the course of the afternoon Tuesday. The Hawks saw senior Kevin Hickey finish with a match-high 25 points, including birdies on two of his final three holes. And the Eagles were led by senior Kenneth Chaplain, who scored 23 points and was one of only two boys in the match to make nothing worse than a bogey.
But in the end, it was Allen’s strong play and the Mustangs’ balance that ultimately proved to be just enough to pull out the victory. Playing in the first group together, Isaac Kim (21 points) and Akash Marakath (20) set the tone and then Sung Kim (14 points) did just enough in the last group to help Marriotts Ridge maintain its advantage.
For River Hill, which also got 18 points apiece from Cam Deiuliis and Jackson Graves, falling one point short was a tough pill to swallow. But coach Matt Graves said its something the team has to learn from and build on heading into the postseason.
“Our kids obviously really wanted this one, as they’ve felt like we’ve closed the gap considerably on Marriotts Ridge. But that’s a great program and they’ve earned everything they’ve gotten during this winning streak,” he said. “As a coach, you dissect each shot here and there that could have propelled us to win. But at the end of the day, even though we fell short, we’ve at least proven that we are right there.
“Hopefully that confidence carries with us as we prep for a run at Districts and hopefully States.”
Marriotts Ridge 79, River Hill 78, Centennial 63
MR (10-0): Allen 24, Kim 21, Marakath 20, Kim 14.
RH (9-1): Hickey 25, Deiuliis 18, Graves 18, Graham 17.
C (6-2): Chaplain 23, Sams 18, Patel 14, Wood 8.
Oakland Mills 45, Long Reach 44, Hammond 36
For the first time in program history, the Scorpions captured the Iron Skillet. And they did in thrilling fashion, as Paul Lebert sank a lengthy putt for double bogey on the final hole at Fairway Hills to secure the deciding point.
Oakland Mills’ Adam Fairbanks led the way with a match-high 24 points, including a birdie on the par 3 sixth hole.
Omar Hussain’s 19 points led the way for Long Reach, which scored a season-best 44 points as a team.
OM (3-6): Fairbanks 24, Atkins 9, Franklin 7, Lebert 5.
LR (1-6): O. Hussain 19, Rullman 10, S. Hussain 9, Grohe 6.
Ha (0-9): Hewitt 13, Stryker 12, Gaffere 8, Quinn 3.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports