It took a 37th hole, but the Paradise Panthers earned a trip to the University Interscholastic League’s 2A state golf tournament.
Finishing tied at 723 with Whitesboro after the second round for third place, the Panthers went out to hole eight to battle for the final state spot. Paradise’s top four players went double bogey, birdie, bogey and par on the hole.
When Colton Horton’s par putt fell into the cup, Paradise locked down the state spot.
“It was really exciting. I didn’t know how anyone else did,” Horton said. “When I made my putt for par, everyone was celebrating.”
Horton fired rounds of 86 and 88.
Lucas Heathington, the team’s lone senior, shot rounds of 91 and 89.
“We kept playing how we know how,” he said. “After the playoff, everyone was clapping, high-fiving and shaking hands..
“I’ve dreamed of [making it to state] since my freshman year. It’s a good achievement.”
Salado claimed the 2A Region II title at Legends Country Club in Stephenville with a 658. Brock, the 9-2A champion, finished second at 719.
After their opening round of 358, Paradise was second. Despite playing in strong winds, the Panthers managed to put up a solid score.
“The first day was rough,” Heathington said. “The wind was blowing hard and dried out the greens.”
The Panthers team – Colton Wells, Brandon McCutchen and Hayden Barkley along with Heathington and Horton – continued to play solid in the second round, shooting a 365.
Wells fired rounds of 90 and 94. Barkley shot 108 and 99, and McCutchen 91 and 94.
“Through the whole day, I knew it was going to be close with us and Whitesboro,” Horton said. “We had to make putts and stay consistent.”
In the playoff, Wells made a birdie to help the Panthers finish with a two-stroke edge on Whitesboro.
“The boys played pretty consistent,” said Paradise coach Terry McCutchen. “I’m extremely proud of them. We’re still on cloud nine.”