Falcons face district curse

A slice of an unexpected type made golf less fun than it should have been for Kevin Carter this week.

The South Whidbey High School senior, who with his big driving ability and solid play this spring seemed a shoe-in to qualify for the state tournament, had to bring more courage than game to the course for the Northwest District 2A tournament Monday and Tuesday. Having sliced off part of his thumb while at work Sunday night, Carter -- one of the Falcons' top four players this season -- still played two solid, 36-hole rounds, but his 175-stroke total placed him just one stroke of the top eight.

Both inspiring for and a blow to the team, the performance almost seemed a continuation of last year's tough luck. At the 2002 district tournament, the Falcons blew up after easily winning the North Cascades Conference championship, qualifying only one team member for state.

This time around, two Falcons -- juniors Jeff Strong and Reed Dettrich -- made the cut. In addition, the team placed second, losing to Lynden Christian on a place-based scoring system that gave the Lyncs the victory even though South Whidbey had the lowest team stroke total.

It wasn't what South Whidbey coach Mick Heggenes had hoped for, but he said this week that it is best to concentrate on the good things that happened Monday and Tuesday. Those things included Carter's toughness.

"He hung in there and I'm proud of him," he said.

At the start of the season, the intention had been to have four or more boys in that top eight at the district meet. Going into this week's meet, which was held between Useless Bay Golf and Country Club and Bellingham Country Club, the Falcons had the NCC MVP in Jeff Strong and the scores to get the job done.

Unfortunately, those scores were not there for the most part this week. Strong was the only Falcon to score under 80, tallying a 75 at Bellingham. The remainder of the team scored in the mid 80s to mid 90s.

Strong and Dettrich travel to Pasco next week to play in the May 28-29 state tournament. Carter will go as an alternate. He will play if one of the top eight players from the Northwest District drops out.

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