At the close of the regular season, East Lake golf coach Terry O'Reilly saw a number of similarities between his team and the New York Mets.
Not the Amazins' who won the 1969 World Series. More like the Mets of the past two seasons, the team that built a substantial lead in the NL East only to go belly up, missing the playoffs each time.
The Eagles, according to O'Reilly, had the talent to make their second trip in a row to the state tournament but weren't showing it on the golf course.
Something wasn't clicking.
Monday at the 2A, Region 4 tournament, the Eagles finally had it working on all cylinders.
With the team competition still undecided, East Lake junior Linzy Clark shot even-par 71 on the difficult course at Wentworth Golf Club to put the Eagles solidly in first. East Lake finished with a team score of 320, 12 strokes better than Dunedin (332), which also advances to state.
"He has the skills and the tools to shoot that well on a regular basis," O'Reilly said. "He's made some great steps this year and especially the last couple weeks as far as raising his stature on the team and becoming a leader by example as well as vocally."
Westin Jensen's 80 helped Dunedin slide by Plant by one stroke for second.
"Westin said he knew something was up when he saw everybody gathered around watching him," Dunedin coach Rich Edmonds said. "I'll take second if we get to go to state. These kids deserve it."
Palm Harbor University's Matt Cote continued his strong play of late by shooting 2-over 73 and capturing an individual berth.
A-5: Eighth-grader earns state berth
SEMINOLE - As a soft wind pushed the trees along the Bayou Club's fairways, Jack Maguire looked at the branches above his head, studying the details of an imminent victory until its final moment.
After a silent observation, the Shorecrest eighth-grader pulled up a patch of grass, tossed it in the air and let the wind carry the broken blades over his shoulder. He tugged at the fabric of his shirt, turned toward the green, then back toward the ball, and sent a low and fading dart toward the putting surface.
Only when his final shot landed did Maguire begin to celebrate, high-fiving teammates.
Maguire shot 70 at the Class A, Region 5 meet, finishing three strokes better than his closest competitor and seven strokes better than the next individual not on a winning team.
"The wind was tough because it kept changing directions every two or three holes," said Maguire, who had two bogeys on the front nine and all pars on the back nine, including three birdies.
Calvary Christian won the team title, shooting 304 to beat out St. Petersburg Catholic (317).
The Warriors' Taylor Hancock shot 33 on the back nine, including four birdies, to finish with a team-best 73. Lee McCoy (75) and Matt Brookins (76) also finished in the 70s.
The Barons were led by Devin Hernandez (77) and Matt Baylor (78).
, Times staff writer
2A-5: Northeast's Mosley moving on
Northeast's Ryan Mosley was the only county golfer to qualify for next week's state meet.
Mosley shot 71 to finish second overall and was the top individual not on a winning team. Venice won the team title with 309, two strokes ahead of Bradenton Lakewood Ranch.
When: Oct. 28-29
Class A: at the Golf Club at Bridgewater, North Lakeland
Class 2A: at Providence Golf & Country Club, Davenport
*Tee times have not been set