Bear­den All-state, Pan­thers 5th

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­

GLEN­WOOD – Ben­ton se­nior golfer Ethan Bear­den earned All-state hon­ors as the Pan­thers would fin­ish fifth over­all in the 5A State Tour­na­ment Mon­day at Glen­wood Coun­try Club in Glen­wood.

Bear­den shot a 3-over 75, good for fifth over­all, to get All-state and capped off his high-school ca­reer in grand fash­ion.

“I was very proud of him, happy for him,” Ben­ton Coach Mark Bal­is­terri said. “He fin­ished his last hole in high school golf with a birdie. He did like he did all year. He had the op­por­tu­nity to shoot 71, 72 and ended up hang­ing in there shoot­ing a 75.”

And the course con­di­tions weren’t prime af­ter a cold front moved in over the week­end.

“The con­di­tions were re­ally, re­ally tough,” Bal­is­terri said. “It rained an inch and the wind was blow­ing about 30 miles an hour. Ethan is a good enough golfer where he could man­age his game in those type of con­di­tions.”

But, as a team the

Pan­thers strug­gled. Af­ter shoot­ing a 321 dur­ing the 5A South Con­fer­ence Tour­na­ment for sec­ond place at Glen­wood, Ben­ton would shoot a 347 on Mon­day for their fifth-place fin­ish, just one shot be­hind Green­wood’s 346.

Jones­boro ended up win­ning state with a 320, fol­lowed by Lake­side’s 333 and Lit­tle Rock Chris­tian’s 336 for third.

“It was kind of dis­ap­point­ing,” Bal­is­terri said. “We shot a 321 in con­fer­ence, and with a Lake­side player get­ting dis­qual­i­fied, a 320 ended up win­ning the thing. We felt like we were good enough to shoot a 320, every­body just couldn’t put it to­gether.”

Lake­side would have won, but a Ram signed his score­card as a 74, when he ac­tu­ally shot a 75. It would have

given Lake­side the ti­tle with a 308, but it wasn’t meant to be.

“Jones­boro didn’t play very well and backed into a state cham­pi­onship,” Bal­is­terri said. “That’s just part of it.”

Ben­ton se­nior Corbin Beard had a tough day on Mon­day. Af­ter shoot­ing a 77 at the con­fer­ence tour­ney, Beard came in with an 89 Mon­day, 10 strokes higher

than his sea­son av­er­age.

“Corbin prob­a­bly had the worst round he’s shot in two years,” Bal­is­terri said. “Corbin played good all year long and I don’t want him to look at his round Mon­day to de­fine what his ca­reer has been. He’s had a good ca­reer, played re­ally well and has come a long way since his ninth-grade year.”

Se­nior Max Bell shot a 90 and se­nior Grant Berry a 93

to round out Ben­ton’s scor­ing, while ju­nior An­der­son Din­gus had a 98.

“I was dis­ap­pointed we didn’t play our best in the state tour­na­ment, but over­all this team came a long way,” Bal­is­terri said. “See­ing these golfers, four se­niors, where they started to where they are now is pretty dang good. I’m proud of them.”

GREG Davis/spe­cial to The Sa­line Courier

Ben­ton se­nior golfer Ethan Bear­den takes a shot in a match ear­lier this sea­son. Bear­den earned All-state hon­ors at the 5A State Tour­na­ment at Glen­wood Coun­try Club this past Mon­day.

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