Lake-Lehman used a veteran lineup to remain on top while Dallas used a young lineup to become a title contender this season in Wyoming Valley Conference golf.
As the sport gets set to become the first of the school year to move into the postseason, Back Mountain teams and individuals are positioned to be a major factor.
Lake-Lehman secured its second straight Division 4 title and third in the last four years Wednesday when the Black Knights defeated Berwick, 169-190, at Berwick Country Club.
Dallas had one match remaining, scheduled for Friday at Irem Temple Country Club against Tunkhannock. A win would allow the Mountaneers to share the Division 2 title.
Tunkhannock already won Division 1, clinching that championship with Wednesday’s 173-189 victory over Pittston Area at Shadowbrook.
Lake-Lehman coach Tom Motovidlak went into the season “pretty confident we can do at least as well as we did last year.”
The Black Knights have already done that.
After winning the division at 9-1 last season, they won an expanded division – Berwick was added – by going 11-1 this time.
The return of three seniors who were the team’s top three players – Adam Motovidlak, Tyler Scharff and Mike Sikora – was the biggest reason for confidence, along with three younger players who had usually accounted for two other starting spots.
The three veteran seniors continued to play well and got help from the emergence of Robert Lugiano, who was the medalist in Wednesday’s division-clinching win with a 39.
Lake-Lehman’s only two losses last season were to Division 3 champion Wyoming Seminary, one in the regular season and one in the playoff to make the District 2 Class 2A championship match.
The same two teams meet Wednesday at Fox Hill Country Club to get to the district final, but this time Lake-Lehman goes in with the advantage of having won the regular-season meeting with the Blue Knights.
Dallas went into Friday still hoping to join Crestwood and Tunkhannock in the Class 3A playoff Wednesday at Fox Hill.
Regardless, it has already been a successful season for a young Mountaineers team.
Dallas won the season-opening Tryba Tournament, handed defending Division 2 champion Crestwood its only loss, earned seven individual boys spots in the Wyoming Valley Conference’s qualifier for the district tournament and battled Crestwood for the division lead all season.
Crestwood finished 9-1, a record the Mountaineers were trying to match to share the division title and earn the playoff opportunity.
Along the way, second-year Dallas coach Jane Kilduff has worked a young and large roster through practices, started competing in junior varsity matches and established what may be the team to watch in the conference for the next few seasons.
Between rotating a varsity lineup and setting up junior varsity matches with Crestwood and Holy Redeemer, Kilduff was able to get experience for many of the 23 players who came out of the program this year.
“We do have some depth on the team,” Kilduff said. “There’s a clump of similar scores so I had to continuously use playoffs every practice with a posted score to really hash out who would be in the top six.
“I just was able to finally select that Monday.”
Mason Gattuso, the team’s top scorer in the season-opening Tryba Tournament and frequent leader throughout the season, is the only junior in the lineup Kilduff expects to use the rest of the way.
Sophomore Colin Bowanko and freshman Brett Ostroski hold the second and third spots in the lineup.
The rest of the lineup features sophomores Colin Bowanko and Ethan Zawatski and freshman Cooper Kelley.
Zac Bloom will join them for the pre-district individual tournament after qualifying for that event with his play when in the lineup during the season.
Freshman Freddie Lombardo also made some starts.
Senior Carly Perlaff plays with the JV team and is entered when there are girls competitions.
Kilduff still sought to get more action for the rest of her players.
“Practice wasn’t enough so we decided to create a JV team and set up competitive matches,” she said. “We hope to have more next year.”
Tyler Faux shot 40 Monday in Tunkhannock’s clinching victory.
The District 2 team championships will be decided October 7 at Elmhurst Country Club.
WVC individuals are scheduled to try to qualify for the District 2 tournament October 3 at Fox Hill. The District 2 individual tournament is scheduled for Fox Hill October 11.
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