By Jake Thompson
CICERO — For several years the Avon Orioles boys’ golf team fell just short of winning the Hoosier Crossroads Conference title. With six teams ranked in the top 20, Monday afternoon’s HCC tournament at Bear Slide Golf Club was one of the toughest challenges the Orioles had faced all season.
Behind Keegan McKinney’s one over-par 72, the Orioles hoisted the HCC trophy. McKinney won back-to-back medalist honors after winning this tournament last season, but the overall victory meant more to the Ball State-bound senior.
“It feels good to get the team win,” McKinney said smiling. “The last five years we’ve missed out by a total of five shots. I made one birdie and gave myself a lot of looks but could not get any putts to go in.
“It could have been a really special round.”
Three schools finished six strokes behind Avon (309) as Hamilton Southeastern, Westfield and Zionsville all put up 315 as second through fourth were all decided by the fifth golfer’s score.
“I’m so glad we’re leaving here with a win,” Avon coach Tom Maples said. “I’m so tired leaving this place losing by a shot or two the last three years. I told the seniors before they got off the bus that they deserved this and to go get it.”
McKinney (72), Mark Whipple (74), Joe Floreancig (80), Luke Berger (83) and Brad Patz (86) made up the Oriole’s scoring.
“Keegan and Mark were huge today,” Maples said.
Both McKinney and Whipple made the All-HCC team along with Brownsburg’s Derek Hettmansperger.
“Derek had three doubles, was disappointed in himself and didn’t putt well today on some holes he needed to save a bogey,” Brownsburg coach Steve Brown said. “Otherwise, he played nice with two birdies on each side. I’m proud of him for hanging in there and leading us again.”
Brownsburg (330) finished sixth, not where Brown, or his team, had hoped the Bulldogs would place.
“Everybody had a hole or two that ended up being the difference of scoring somewhere in the 70s and the three ended up in the low 80s,” Brown said. “That’s what we wanted to avoid and we just weren’t able to do that today. We struggled on a couple of holes and that was the difference between a top five finish.”
Hettmansperger (78), Luke Kelly (81), Alec Brown (83), Kyle Dafoe (88) and Kasey Cross (96) contributed to the Bulldogs’ overall score.
Both Brown and Maples each said afterwards they seemed to be on course heading into the state tournament in three weeks, however they would each like to see improvements from the back of their line-ups
“I’m glad we have three more weeks because we need to find a more consistent fourth score in our 18-hole matches,” Brown said. “We just need to get that and that fourth score is putting us behind some of the teams we will have to beat to get out of the sectional.”
While very happy with the win, Maples also understands his team still needs to improve before heading into the postseason.
“I don’t think we’re playing our best golf,” Maples said. “When you look at our scores, we’re two really strong right now and are fighting tooth and nail to get the third and fourth guys in. We need more consistency out of those third and fourth scores.”