Dons eye shot at State title at SCGA

MURRIETA – Santa Barbara High School’s seniors have their graduation ceremony on Thursday evening, ready to take a great leap forward.

The four seniors on the Dons’ boys golf team have another special event to make first, the Southern California Golf Championship at the SCGA GC in Murrieta. Graduating from there would mean a berth in the State Championship, something all six members of the Dons golf team are keen on making happen.

“Santa Barbara High School has never won a team State championship in any sport and I’d really like to make this team the first,” Jack Perry said, confident his team has what it takes to make it through.

The Dons have been here before. It’s the third time in four years the Dons have made it this far. Santa Barbara won the SCGA title in 2008 and finished second at State that year, four shots away from a state title.

Joining Perry in Murrieta are classmates Shane Lebow, Ray Gerow and John Baur. Sophomores Sean Searls and Mickey Kirby round out the group. Perry has the most experience at the SCGA GC, playing in the tournament for a third time.

“I love the course. I think it fits our fifth and sixth guys, which is really important,” Perry reasoned, liking his team’s chances. “On paper, there’s not many teams that are better than us.”

Still, Santa Barbara learned not to rest on its laurels after the CIF Southern Section Final, where the Dons slipped through to the SCGA by a single stroke. Because of that, Dons head coach James Bedard took a milder tack.

“We snuck in this tournament as it is,” Bedard said. “I feel like we’re kind of playing with house money. We have nothing to lose.”

Only ten teams in all of Southern California have made it this far, and only the top three on Thursday will advance to take on Northern California’s top three teams on Tuesday at Santa Maria Country Club.

In order to make it to the State Championship, some great high school teams will have to be left out.

Defending SCGA champion Servite is back, led by CIF-ss individual champion Patrick Cantlay.

“They’ve had a bullseye on their back all year but they’ve responded real well,” said Dons head coach James Bedard.

Great Oak, Villa Park, Clovis West and Santa Barbara are all considered favorites along with Servite to be among the top-three.

Thursday will also crown an individual SCGA champion. San Marcos’ Dodge Ward and Laguna Blanca’s Niall Platt will make the trip after qualifying at last week’s CIF-ss Individual Final at La Purisima Golf Course. All of the Dons players are eligible for the individual title as well.

Perry has a 70.8 scoring average this season, good for 11-under par in 25 rounds of golf.

“Everyone has a lot of confidence in Jack right now. He’s been playing great,” credited Bedard.

Platt is another to look after. The Owls’ senior has been on a roll lately, earning co-medalist honors at a U.S. Open Local Qualifier to advance to the Regional Qualifier this weekend in Sacramento.

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