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Battling a rough start on Day 1 and rough weather on Day 2, the Madras boys placed sixth at the district golf tournament.

COURTESY PHOTO: JOHNNY WILSON - Madras senior Hekili Harry finished out the season with his best-ever round during the second day of the 4A Special District 1 golf tournament on Thursday, May 5, at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks. The Madras boys golf team went to Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks earlier this week for the 4A Special District 1 tournament, placing sixth overall at the event held Wednesday and Thursday, May 4-5.

Banks, which hosted the tournament, took home the district championship after shooting a two-day total of 649. Valley Catholic was 25 strokes back from the Braves, taking second place with a score of 674. An even bigger gap separated Valley Catholic and third-place Tillamook, which finished with a score of 728. Those top three schools were followed by Seaside (765), Molalla (787), Madras (792), Astoria (814), North Marion (838) and Estacada (985). Molalla had been in seventh place after Wednesday's action, but the Indians had a good second round in bad weather on Thursday, sneaking past both Madras and Astoria on the leaderboard.

"We were a little disappointed to slip to sixth," said Madras head coach Johnny Wilson, "but I was impressed at how well the guys grinded it out in the bad weather."

For a Madras team looking to sneak into a top-four finish, the train came off the tracks from the very beginning of the tournament. On Wednesday, the team opened up 22 shots over par on the first two holes, which head coach Johnny Wilson noted were relatively short and simple par-4 holes.

"Kind of a tough day for us on the course," said Wilson of the team's first round score of 399. "We got off to a really poor start."

COURTESY PHOTO: JOHNNY WILSON - Madras junior Amare Jones had the best showing among the White Buffalo golfers at the 4A Special District 1 tournament in Banks. Jones placed 14th overall with a total score of 187 in the two-day event.Amare Jones had the best overall performance for the Madras team. Despite missing a few putts on Wednesday that Wilson said are usually automatic for the junior, Jones still managed to shoot a team-leading 95 before shaving off three strokes on Thursday to finish with a round of 92. His combined total score of 187 was tops among the White Buffalo varsity squad, and it was good for 14th place overall.

Next best for Madras was senior Hekili Harry, who bounced back admirably after a tough first round of 106 that put him outside of the team's top four scorers on Wednesday. Harry knocked more than 20 strokes off his game on Thursday, however, finishing with a round of 85 — easily the best round by any Buff at districts — to bring his total score to 191. After starting off his second round with a double bogey on Hole 1, Harry made par or bogeyed on each of the next 17 holes as he slid into 18th place overall.

Those second-day performances from Harry and Jones helped buoy a Madras team that nearly slipped even further down the leaderboard. Strong rounds on Thursday from Molalla and Seaside pushed the Buffs out of contention for a coveted top-four finish, but they were able to pull out of a full nosedive.

"Hekili's career-low day saved us from falling off the map, and Amare came through with a solid round to hold us up as well," said Wilson, who noted that the team's fortunes changed midway through Thursday's round as Rupert Bellanger, Damon Garcia and Logan Lee all ran into trouble on either side of the turn. "Tallying up some tentative numbers, we went from nearly a lock to finish fourth to holding on for dear life to a top-five spot in the span of about 30 minutes."

While Jones and Harry were able to navigate bad weather on Thursday and improve their scores, their teammates went the other way. Bellanger, who shot 97 on the first day and 107 on the second, placed 25th overall. Rounding out the team, Lee and Garcia shot over 100 in both rounds, and both saw their stroke totals increase from Wednesday to Thursday. Lee placed 30th overall with a score of 211, while Garcia's 219 was good for 34th out of 47 total entries.

"We had talked prior to the round about mental toughness and how having the right mindset in bad weather would give them a massive advantage over a lot of other players," said Wilson of how he prepared the team to play through a rainy day in Banks. "They were really into that idea, and I thought they came out ready to play and make a real run at that third place spot."

Still, despite some disappointment in how the final scores turned out, Wilson is excited about the current state of the program — as well as its trajectory.

"I think that we put down some foundational roots for how this program expects to compete," said Wilson. "Right now, and in the future."

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