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updated: 10/2/2012 9:50 PM

Naperville N. doesn't flop

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

History certainly has a way of repeating itself.

Ten years after Naperville North, Naperville Central and Benet became the three Class AA boys golf state representatives out of the same regional, the three traditional powers made another collective statement Tuesday in Plainfield.

Raymond Knoll birdied the 18th hole at Naperbrook Golf Club to defend his individual regional championship in leading Naperville North to the team title 301-303 over Benet.

Naperville Central, for the second straight year, edged Waubonsie Valley by a stroke, 309-310, for the last team qualifying position to the St. Charles East sectional Monday at St. Andrews in West Chicago.

"Third or better, that's the only thing that matters," Naperville Central coach Barry Baldwin said after the Redhawks overcame a 9-shot Waubonsie Valley outward-nine lead to snare the final team spot. "Score doesn't mean anything."

Knoll once again put on a scintillating performance to win the Redhawks' Class 3A regional title with a 3-under 69.

The Iowa-bound Naperville North senior made mincemeat of the four par-5s at Naperbrook to fashion his winning total.

Knoll, after a 295-yard drive on No. 14, rifled a cut 3-wood from 271 yards to less than a foot to get back to red numbers for the day. The reigning junior amateur state champion then deftly used a flop shot on the 18th to within inches to deny Benet freshman Alex Bassetto a potential playoff.

"As soon as I hit the (second) shot (on 14), I said to myself, 'That could be pretty good,'" Knoll said.

Knoll was 4-under for the day on the par-5s after his near-double-eagle and tap-in at the last.

"I have been playing that shot since the day I was born," Knoll said of his play from only feet off the green. "The flop shot is my favorite shot in the world."

Depth is the calling card for Naperville North, which captured its third consecutive regional championship.

Patrick Henrickson fired a 75 from the sixth slot for the Huskies, who had their team total completed with a respective 78 and 79 from Sean McDonnell and Braden Klaisle.

"It's going to be a dogfight to get out of the sectional," Naperville North coach Ryan Hantak said. "Winning is nice, but it's all about advancing (as a team). Any coach would tell you that."

Benet advanced to its first team sectional in four years behind Bassetto, who had an inward-nine 34 to stamp his season-low 70.

"Earlier in the summer I shot a 65 here (at the Naperville City Tournament)," Bassetto said. "I really enjoy playing (Naperbrook)."

Brock Jameson, Joe Minik and Jack Corrigan were the Redwings' other contributors.

Naperville Central senior Peter Mandich, paired with Knoll in the final group, had 2 birdies coming home to fashion back-to-back 38s.

With Eddie Lieser as the low man for Naperville Central with a 75, two other scores in the 70s by Jack Hawes and Alex Nguyen allowed the Redhawks to slip past Waubonsie Valley.

"If 76 was the number (to get the team through), I'd take it," Mandich said.

Eric Copeland, Jason Marrs, Tate Anderson and Austin Datz qualified as at-large individuals for Waubonsie Valley.

Jeremy Forbes also made the individual cut -- which fell at 78 -- for eighth-place Metea Valley (322).

One year after placing runner-up in Class 2A, Marmion was in prime position to snare one of the coveted team spots to St. Andrews.

With the third-place through sixth-place teams separated by six shots, though, Marmion had to accept three at-large advancers.

The Cadets' first foray into Class 3A ended with a fourth-place result after Liam Creamer, Brett Koskinen and Luke Hoss fired matching 77s to better the individual cut line by a shot.

Joe Fritz had an 81 to complete the Cadets' 312 total.

"They had it in their grasp," Marmion coach Doug Roberts said of the Cadets' position at the turn. "It's a little disheartening. One hole, 16 (a long par-3), sunk us. A couple of my guys whose scores we counted had big numbers there."

Creamer overcame a disastrous 4-putt for double-bogey on No. 10 by playing his final eight holes in level par.

"At that point I was just trying to get as low as I could," Creamer said. "I missed too many short putts. I don't know what (its source) was."

"I am happy for our two seniors," Hoss said. "We had a great year. We're going to be even better next year."

The Aurora- and Naperville-dominated field is historically one of the toughest tests in the first state preliminary.

"Marmion being in the field makes it even stronger," West Aurora coach Jay Bauer said.

West Aurora was able only to better its archrival East Aurora to place ninth in the tournament with a 342 total.

"I'm sure not going to question (its status as perhaps the must rugged regional in the state)," Bauer said. "There are a lot of good golfers in the area."

The Blackhawks dramatically improved upon their DuPage Valley Conference tournament score from last week.

Blake Kaufmann was the low man for West Aurora with an 83.

Daniel Waters, Jonathon Hunecke and Ottavio Dattolo completed the team scorecard.

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