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Lions win conference title

When the Halifax County Middle School golf team kicked off its season in early August, Lions Head Coach Charles Payne said this year’s team could be the best golf team he and the middle school has ever had.

After the Southside Middle School Conference Championship Golf Tournament concluded Monday at Kinderton Country Club in Clarksville, there was no doubt in their coach’s mind.

Carding an outstanding round of 172, the Lions handily won the nine-hole Southside Middle School Conference Championship Tournament, defeating its closest challenger, Central Middle School, by 11 shots and leaving the four remaining teams well behind on the scoreboard.

It was the second straight Southside Middle School Conference golf championship for Halifax County Middle School, which also won conference titles in 2007 and 2009.

“You can’t play much better than that,” Payne said of his team’s championship-winning round.

“It was a job well done. When you look at the whole season, we talked about 180 being the goal, and we’ve been there or better in every match.”

Payne went on to say that this team is the best Halifax County Middle School team he has coached.

“With the numbers the kids posted throughout the season, with their scoring average and their ability to play the game, it entitles them to be the best team the middle school has had,” Payne pointed out.

“The second-best team from the middle school will be the players that will be the seniors at the high school next year. It’s interesting to see that we have that much talent.”

Matt Ratliff led the Lions’ effort in Monday’s tournament, coming in with a round of 39. That was also good enough to earn Ratliff medalist honors.

“It’s a lot of fun (winning the championship),” Ratliff remarked.

“It’s something I can look back on when I get older.”

Good putting and an ability to keep the ball in the fairway were keys to Ratliff’s round.

“ I played well today,” Ratliff said.

“I made putts that helped my score. I kept everything straight and in the fairway.”

Jamey Binner posted a solid round of 43 for the Lions and finished in a tie for second place individually.

“I’m very excited about us winning the championship,” Binner said.

“It was a little tough with Central. I struggled a little with my chipping, and the greens were hard and fast.”

Luke Newbill’s round of 44 and Kaleb Cole’s round of 46 also counted toward the Lions’ team total. Newbill’s round gave him fourth-place overall in the individual standings. The highlight of his round was sinking a 20-foot putt for a birdie on the fifth hole.

“It feel great with us winning the championship,” Newbill said.

“We couldn’t have done it without a team effort. My round was alright, but I could have done better.”

‘It’s awesome us winning the championship,” Cole added.

“This is my first time winning a championship. It wasn’t my best (round), it was kind of mid-range. My chipping and putting made the difference.”

Lance Chappell and Kassidy Irby also competed for the Lions in the conference championship tournament. Chappell logged a round of 47 and Irby came in with a round of 52. Their scores did not count as the four best scores from among six designated players were counted toward the team totals.

While the Lions golfers adeptly demonstrated their ability on the golf course all season, they showed at the end that the success they had this season was all about teamwork.

“We took 12 kids with us because we have over 30 on the team,” Payne explained.

“During the closing ceremony we were all standing together, and when they called us to come up and receive the trophies the kids let the number eight man and the number 10 man go up and receive a trophy.

“That says a lot for and about the kids,” Payne added.

“You don’t see that very often. This is about teamwork. They showed that.”