By THE HERALD-WHIG
ALTON, Ill. — As the early scores went up on the board at Tuesday's Class 3A Alton Regional, Quincy High School boys golf coach Doug Bruner began to get worried. In the end, there was never any reason to be.
QHS finished with a team 314 at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course, good for second place. The top three teams advanced to Monday's Pekin Sectional. Belleville West won the event with a 311, and Edwardsville was third at 315.
The Blue Devils had 16 strokes to spare between them and fourth-place Alton. However, the Redbirds' first three scores of 78, 78, 81 put them in the hunt early and caused Bruner's concern.
"It was a little bit scary at the end of the round. We thought we were literally right on the borderline of maybe (not) even getting out," Bruner said. "They had 78, 78, 81 on the board, so with a half hour to go, absolutely I was nervous."
By the time the final scores were posted, the Blue Devils felt they probably should have won the event.
"We'd be lying if we said we weren't disappointed we didn't win it," Bruner said. "But we move on to sectionals, so we're happy."
Bruner was plenty happy with No. 1 golfer Zach Burry's round. Burry carded a 3-over 75 to finish in a tie for third overall. Belleville West's Cade Dibadj took medalist with a 73.
"I was hitting my driver probably the best I've hit it all year," Burry said. "I was hitting it straight and putting my irons really close."
Burry got off to a hot start. He parred his starting hole, No. 14. On the par-5, 540-yard 15th, Burry reached the green on his second shot with a 4-iron and drained 10-foot eagle putt.
After bogeying No. 16, Burry had a chance to move back to 2-under on No. 17 but missed a 4-foot birdie putt.
Burry also bogeyed the par-4 first hole despite being 30 yards off the green after his tee shot.
Burry responded with a birdie on No. 2 but had a bogey on No. 6, and he was even par heading into the par-4 13th, which he triple bogeyed. He pulled his tee shot into the trees and put his second shot in the water.
"He played marvelous through 17 (holes)," Bruner said. "I guarantee you he feels like he should have won the tournament."
Even so, a 75 was nothing to frown at on a day where somewhat windy conditions kept some golfers in check.
"Burry was close to playing awesome," Bruner said.
QHS also received a 79 from Kolbe Rodemich and 80s from Cory Boots and Alec Shoot. The Blue Devils dropped the 82s posted by Zach Kuhlman-Pfeiffer and Zach Smith. QHS was the only team that had every golfer shoot 82 or better.
QHS has now defeated Edwardsville in all six meetings between the schools this season. To advance out of the sectional, Bruner said QHS likely will need to beat Edwardsville for a seventh time and also top Belleville West.
"We are right in the mix of those top three teams at sectionals, but it's also pretty easy to finish fourth or fifth, and that's scary," Bruner said. "We know we have to play well, but I think our guys think we have a good chance."
The top three of 12 teams in the sectional will advance to state. To advance, Burry said QHS definitely needs to go lower than its 314 mark from Tuesday.
"We'd rather play poorly here than sectionals, because we're not going to get out with (a 314) at sectionals," Burry said. "So I guess it was a good time to do it now."