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Panther pulls off surprise

Plant coach Art Psillis needed Jennifer Pesce to have a good round.

Instead, she shot the best game of her life.

The junior shot an 89, 11 strokes below her average, to give Plant a four-stroke victory over Chamberlain 377-381 in the Class 6A, District 7 championship.

Plant's close win overshadowed a stunning round by Chamberlain freshman Whitney Code, who shot a 72 _ par for the World Woods Rolling Oaks course. The 15-year-old birdied the 17th and 18th holes for the overall title and a trip to state. Plant advanced for a shot at the team title.

Plant's group of five huddled around the leader board as the scores came in, waiting for Chamberlain's results. Code's score had been posted and it was better than any had seen all day.

But when officials posted two Chamberlain scores over 100, the girls hugged their coach breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Gulf was the highest finisher for the North Suncoast, thanks to a solid round by Lindsay Murvine. The sophomore led the Buccaneers with an 84. River Ridge's tandem of Heather Beach and Tracy Westley finished eighth and ninth with respective scores of 97 and 98.

"Even though I wanted to win, I won conference _ that was my goal," Murvine said. "Now it's time to practice all summer."

While Pesce helped Plant steal the title, Code stole the show. Other coaches shook their heads and made deflating sounds as officials wrote in Code's score. Chamberlain coach Billy Turner just acknowledged what has become the usual for his youngster. Code shot her average, which is 36 for nine holes.

"I think, 'Whitney Code, My Lord, she's only going to get better,' " he said.

She becomes the second Code from Chamberlain to win an individual title this year and advance to district. Her brother, Jordan, won the title earlier this week for the boys.

4A-8: Twiner, Leopards win

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS _ Sara Ishmael of Tavares and and Rebecca Twiner of Crystal River played each other for the first time Wednesday at Bella Vista Golf and Yacht club.

It likely won't be the last.

Ishmael, a freshman, and Twiner, a sophomore, tied for medalist honors at 81 through 18 holes before Twiner took the victory with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

Hernando won its fifth straight title at 377, 16 strokes better than Crystal River.

Hernando, which won state last year, proved it could still win the district despite losing three key players.

"It is a big plus for us", Hernando coach T.V. Chambers said. "A lot of people didn't think we would be at the top again. All of our players had better days on the back nine. They surprised me a little this year and I'm real proud of the girls."

Hernando's No. 1 player, Pam Beckelheimer, fired an 82, just one stoke behind the leaders. But the key to Hernando winning yet another district title was its depth. Hernando's number four player, Mary Courson, was playing golf for the first time this year and shot a 106 with a 50 on the back nine.

It was the first-ever playoff for Ishmael and Twiner, and despite some nervous energy, both proved to be up to the task.

"I was so nervous my legs were shaking", said Twiner, who finished sixth in districts last season. "I just knew I had to have confidence."

The players went back to the 442-yard, par 5 first hole for the playoff. Twinerbirdied the hole earlier.

Both split the fairway with their drives. Twiner hit a 6-iron just over the green and Ishmael was just short with a 5-iron. Ishmael chipped up and made par, but Twiner stroked a long downhill putt to within 2 feet of the cup, setting up an easy birdie putt for the win.

_ TODD FOLEY

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