MONTGOMERY — Another season, another trip to state.
The Montgomery Lady Bears are headed to the UIL state tournament for the 23rd consecutive year after winning the Region III-5A championships at La Torretta on Tuesday afternoon.
Montgomery finished with a team score of 646, beating out Magnolia (686) and College Station (708) for the title. All three teams advanced to the Class 5A state tournament, which will be played May 13-14 at White Wing Golf Club in Georgetown.
“We had a few girls that have never been in this position,” Montgomery coach Kirk Thomason said. “Although I knew, and they knew, that we were probably the prohibited favorite, they still have never been here. … We just knew that we had to get the job done and not let the moment get to us. Last year, these five girls were Nos. 4-8, and now they’re playing 1-5. So what they’ve done this year, they have surpassed a lot of people’s expectations.”
The Lady Bears were led by the two players with regional experience — sophomore Remington Isaac and junior Meagan Pistone. Isaac was the individual runner-up with a two-day score of 150 (71-79), and Pistone was close behind her in third place at 151 (76-75). Elli Hadley (81-91—172), Emily Gill (85-88—173) and Olivia Hattersley (88-94—182) rounded out the team.
“The next step is to compete for the state championship,” Thomason said. “We can do it, but we have to play a little better than we did these past two days.”
Isaac and Pistone are lead-by-example players, according to Thomason. Their steady presence on a team that had to reload from last year has been invaluable.
“We’re coming together, hopefully at the right time,” Thomason said. “But they have to understand — La Torretta is a very hard golf course, probably the hardest course we play all year, and when you add wind to it, there’s a lot of trouble out there. But we persevered, and now we’re going to take about a week off, regroup and get ready for state.”
Magnolia will also be making the trip to Georgetown after earning its fifth consecutive state tournament appearance. The Lady Bulldogs were led at regionals by two-time defending state champion Halle Whitney, who finished sixth overall with a score of 162 (79-83).
Brandee Fleming (78-85—163), Regan Allen (84-90—174), Kaydee Lowe (92-95—187) and Halle Brumfield (99-111—213) rounded out the rest of the team.
“I’m proud of them,” Magnolia coach Jim Bob Jackson said. “For the fifth straight year, Magnolia High School is going to the ladies state championships, so I’m extremely happy for the girls. I know we’re a better team than how we played the last couple days, but we have some time before the state championship. The good thing is I believe these girls will bounce back, and I have faith in them, and that’s all that matters. They’re a great group of kids.”
The top four players for the Lady Bulldogs — Whitney, Fleming, Allen and Lowe — all played at the state tournament last season and finished fourth as a team. Jackson is hoping those past learning opportunities will benefit his players moving forward.
“I have the defending state champion two years in a row, so hopefully that experience will help,” Jackson said, referring to Whitney. “Playing the golf course a couple times helps a lot, and you get a better feel for how its going to play. The experience will be good, and our goal, as always, is to win the state championship or medal, and that’s our mindset.”
In addition to the two local teams that qualified for state, there were three individuals from the regional who also advanced. Elise Parel of Kingwood Park took home the regional title with a score of 145 (73-72). Mattingly Palmer of Georgetown (80-78-158) and Heidi Demel of Friendswood (79-80-159) also qualified as individuals. Kendall Wall of Willis (80-87-167) competed well and finished tied for 11th overall, but missed qualifying for state by two spots.