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Boys' SAC tourney a toss-up

Knight's departure from Wesley Chapel reveals more overall balance across the conference.

By STEVE LEE
Published October 1, 2006


ZEPHYRHILLS - Two-time defending champion Wesley Chapel lost three-time defending individual champ Cameron Knight to graduation, which opens up the Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament.

And there is no shortage of competitors.

Wesley Chapel coach Alan Black believes more than a half-dozen players have a shot of the vacated title. Black also listed his Wildcats, Mitchell, River Ridge and host Zephyrhills as teams capable of winning Monday's tournament at Silverado.

"There's a lot of balance in the conference," Black said. "I think it's pretty much wide open. Nobody's really dominated, so it should be a real good tournament."

Wesley Chapel had a 22-match win streak snapped Sept. 21 in a loss to Zephyrhills by seven strokes. The Wildcats also lost to River Ridge, which lost to Mitchell.

River Ridge enters the tournament with a win Thursday, 175-175 14-15 over Land O'Lakes. The teams were tied after nine holes, but the Royal Knights won when Kiel Jackson, Jeff King and Jeremy Bilancione made par (three) on a playoff hole.

River Ridge coach Mike Marlin listed Jackson and King among the players capable of winning the individual title. Other contenders include: Land O'Lakes' Wes Parrish, Ridgewood's Jordan Pedova, Wesley Chapel's Andrew Horn, and Zephyrhills' Zeke Kinsman and Rick Briggs.

"It'll be whoever plays well that day," Marlin said. "They're all capable of shooting par and they're all capable of 40."

Acknowledging that Zephyrhills players are most familiar with Silverado, Marlin does not put much stock in a home-course advantage.

"It's an advantage, but you've still got to go out there and hit the shots," he said.

Contact Steve Lee at ee@sptimes.com.