Decoster said the key to his success was staying positive.
“I just stayed with it,” said Decoster. “I went 38 on the front and 39 on the back. I had a key birdie on the last hole that got us under 330, which is what we needed to get to sectionals, so I am proud of my score.”
Decoster said he talked with his playing partner, Creekview’s Damon Powers, during the round and the pair tried to stay positive.
“We weren’t making our putts or anything, but we stayed with it and played pretty decent for how we started out,” the junior said.
Decoster led Kell with a 77. He was one of three players to card 38 on the front nine. Matthew Hines shot 80, Chandler Mackey 84, and P.J. Varner finished with 88.
Creekivew shot a 319 to win the region title, Cambridge (325) was second and Kell (329) was third. As the region champion, Creekview advances directly to the Class AAAAA state tournament, which will be held a month from now in Jekyll Island. Meanwhile, Cambridge and Kell will have two weeks to prepare for the sectional tournament in Augusta.
The Pope boys finished fourth, but won’t be going to sectionals.
The top four teams from each region advance to the section meet — provided they shot a score of 330 or better.
The Greyhounds shot a team score of 340.
The scoring rule was instituted this year, in addition to the sectional tournament. It is designed to make sure the best teams from each region advance.
In previously years, only the top two finishers in the region would move on to state.
Pope coach Jason Dasinger said he is disappointed that his team won’t be going to the section tournament in Augusta.
“They shot a really good score and I was proud of the way they played,” said Dasinger. “They shot a really good score to come in fourth, but unfortunately not a good enough score to make it to sectionals. We are disappointed, but we understand what we had to do and we came up a few strokes short.”
Robbie Shapiro led the Greyhounds with 81, Daniel Edmondson and Brady Kupersmith each shot 86 and Jack Fitzwater finished with 87.
Dasinger said that while the required score rule hurt his team, Kell benefitted from the format change.
“Last year we wouldn’t have gone regardless,” said Dasinger. “But with the rule change, another really good school like Kell gets to benefit because they will be going.”
Kell coach Craig Hines said his golfers didn’t play their best round. The team played the course 16 strokes better when they practiced last week.
“It wasn’t through lack of effort, we had kids that just didn’t have good days here,” he said. “We wanted to win it. We could have, but we just didn’t. Creekview had a great day out here. We did get to qualify. Like in basketball, we live to play another day.”
The Grizzlies could have posted a better team score had one of their golfers not been disqualified. Marshal Richards, who shot 79, was disqualified for using his cell phone during the round.
Creekview coach Jimmy Thigpen said Richards sent a couple of text messages to his father, who was out of town and unable to attend the match. The use of a cell phone during the round is prohibited.
Thigpen said he spoke said Richards learned an important lesson and fortunately it didn’t cost the team their trip to state. The coach said he will be collecting cell phones and texting updates to parents from now on.
“We had an unfortunate disqualification, but hopefully the lesson has been learned,” said Thigpen. “We aren’t going to make the same mistake again in Jekyll Island when we are down there for state.”
Creekview’s Jared O’Kelley won individual medalist honors with a 74.
Decoster finished second as an individual. Ryan Stachler of Cambridge, Powers and Sam Popky of Riverwood all shot a 78 to tie for third.
Sequoyah shot a 343 to place fifth, followed by Riverwood (347) and Northview (367). Sprayberry shot a 369, which was good for eighth, with North Springs (392) finishing ninth. Osborne and Forsyth Central did not have enough golfers finish to produce a team score.