Eyes on the prize

Alex Bennett, left, of Great Crossing and Ethan Flanders of Scott County watch a putt by GC's Landon Bergman during Tuesday's "Battle of the Birds" golf match at Cherry Blossom. Strong rounds by Bennett (34) and Bergman (37) staked the Warhawks to a win by eight shots.

The zone. The groove. His own little world.

Whatever you choose to call that transcendent sporting space where seemingly nothing can go wrong, Great Crossing freshman golfer Alex Bennett was in it for about an hour Tuesday afternoon.

His teammates followed that lead to a revenge victory, 155-163, over Scott County in this year’s “Battle of the Birds” at Cherry Blossom Golf Club.

"I was knocking some shots close, and my putter was on fire the first couple holes," Bennett said.

Close enough to bury birdie putts on each of the first three odd-numbered greens, then another to go 4-under after six.

"The one on No. 3 was a really long one," Bennett recalled. "I just got the line perfect, and it dropped in."

Bennett, who played for Scott County as an eighth-grader a year ago when the Cardinals fought off the Warhawks in the first-ever head-to-head meeting, stumbled into a double bogey at seven.

His approach shot landed shy of the green in some light rough, but with the kind of fried-egg lie one might expect from a bunker.

"I hit a bad shot left," Bennett said. "It was a little wet and muddy over there. The ball kind of plugged in the mud, and I couldn't really do anything much."

Bennett collected himself with two pars for a 2-under 34. Combined with sophomore Landon Bergman’s 37, it built the foundation for an impressive team triumph.

Great Crossing's performance in weekend team tournaments indicated that the Warhawks had a chance to clip the Cardinals, but there's a different type of pressure when you're walking the fairway side-by-side with longtime friends and even former teammates.

"The nerves are really high," Bennett said. "Just try to keep your mind off golf when you're not hitting the ball, then focus when you get there."

Ashton Cochran and Connor Smith each carded a 42 to complete the scoring for GCHS.

Jake Caudill completed the Warhawks’ lead quintet with 44.

"We've had some good tournaments. Most of us have played pretty well," Bennett said. "Landon has really picked it up. He's shot in the 70s a lot this year, and we have some other kids coming up and shooting good scores."

Ethan Flanders showed the way for Scott County with a 38.

After a birdie on the first hole and a bogey at the third, the senior served up a string of pars until a double bogey on the finishing hole.

"I tried to go for it, tried to hit a little draw into the pin, but I got out a little too far right, caught a bad bounce and went out of bounds," Flanders said.

Blake Ford, also playing in the lead group, shot 41 for the Cardinals. Kyle VanValkenburg and Caden Less each chalked up 42, while Wyatt Holbrook checked in at 44.

Great Crossing won for the third time in its four conference matches. Both the Warhawks and Cardinals were coming off a top-five effort against large fields in weekend tournament action.

"Both teams are right around each other," Flanders said, "I know these guys have a lot more potential in them than what we did today."

Flanders and VanValkenburg are the only seniors in SC's starting lineup, while Smith is the lone upperclassman in GC's scoring quartet.

"I've been more consistent this year than in previous years. I would shoot 70 and then shoot 90. Now I'm trying to shoot mid-70s more, which I'm happy," Flanders said. "We're all just getting better and learning what's smart instead of going for everything."

The teams will see each other twice this weekend in invitational tournaments. They’re in Montgomery County on Saturday and Bourbon County on Sunday.

GC girls' soccer shuts out Model

Great Crossing girls’ soccer served up its second shutout in as many nights Tuesday, blanking Model Laboratory School of Richmond, 3-0, on senior night.

It’s the first time the Warhawks have held consecutive opponents without a goal in school history.

Freshman phenoms Meren Patton (two goals, one assist) and Ally Nowlin (one goal, one assist) starred again for GCHS. Shelby Smith anchored the defense in goal.

GC scored late in the first half to break a scoreless stalemate, then tallied twice after intermission to put it away.

"It was a slow first half against a challenging opponent," GC coach Steve Brown said. "We played better team ball in the second half, scored early and then again midway through."

The team honored its two seniors, Elisabeth Keenan and Emily Ramos, in a ceremony before kickoff.

Next up for the Warhawks is a 42nd District contest at Frankfort on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Warhawk volleyball sends road message

Ranked one spot beneath Lafayette in the 11th Region according to one preseason poll, Great Crossing volleyball earned a statement win on the road in its season opener Tuesday night.

The Warhawks swept all three sets, taking down the Generals, 25-15, 25-22, 25-12.

Grace Brooker led a balanced attack at net with 10 kills for Great Crossing. Reagan McLean added seven, while Alora Wilson and Ryann Thomas put away six apiece as the Warhawks asserted their strength early and often.

GC jumped out to an 11-4 lead on its way to the first-set win.

Game two was a much tougher challenge, with the Warhawks nursing leads of 17-15 and 21-18 before applying the finishing touches.

Another quick start (12-5) sent Great Crossing on its way in the third chapter.

Strong service from Morgan Caba (five aces) and Thomas (four) kept GC in control of the match.

Annie Pearson's 18 assists, plus eight more from Teagan Feezor, set up the Warhawks' hard-hitting front line.

The reigning 42nd District champions stay in the region and on the road against another feisty opponent, Madison Southern, before hosting the Battle of the Birds against SC on Thursday.

SC falls just short in five-set thriller

Scott County volleyball had Madison Southern on the ropes, but the Eagles slipped away for a season-opening victory, three sets to two, in Berea.

It was remarkably similar to a five-set classic in Georgetown last year. Madison Southern came out on top in that one as well.

Back and forth the 11th Region rivals went, with SC showing out in a convincing 25-14 verdict to open the match.

Madison Southern eked out a 25-22 win in the second game. Undaunted, Scott County surged to a 25-15 triumph in round three and had a chance to close out the match.

The Eagles fought back, 25-19, to square the deal at two sets apiece, then outlasted the Cards, 15-13, in the deciding sequence.

Cards drop 4-0 verdict in Tribe Shootout

Madison Central wasn't a gracious host Tuesday night, dismissing the Scott County boys' soccer team, 4-0, in the opening game of the week-long Tribe Shootout.

Gavin O'Shea scored two goals to pace the Indians, Luis Martinez and Sam Hughes also found the net.

SC will return Saturday for a neutral-site match against North Laurel. The tournament continues through Sunday. The Cards celebrated two of their four wins last year at the MCHS showcase.

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