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Ross, LaFavour master the elements, CIC field

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MEDALIST: Noah Ross watches his chip shot on the 17th green at Arbor Trace Saturday during the CIC golf championship. Ross, a senior from Eastbrook, beat Oak Hill senior Blake LeFavour in a three-hole playoff to earn medalist after both shot 71.
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RESPITE: Eastbrook's Noah Ross seeks refuge from the wind and rain that hampered golfers during the Central Indiana Conference tournament Saturday at Arbor Trace. Ross made birdie on the playoff hole to earn medalist honors over Oak Hill's Blake LeFavour after both seniors shot 71.
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EAGLES: Blake LeFavour shot 71 and tied Eastbrook's Noah Ross for low round in the CIC golf championship Saturday at Arbor Trace. LeFavour's round helped Oak Hill win its fourth-straight conference title by six shots over Ross' runner-up Panthers.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

The weather outside was frightful Saturday afternoon, but the scores turned in by Noah Ross and Blake LaFavour were most delightful.

LaFavour and Ross each shot impressive even-par 71s in ever increasing rain, wind and cold at Arbor Trace Golf Club in the Central Indiana Conference golf meet. LaFavour led Oak Hill to a fourth consecutive team championship over Eastbrook, while the Panthers' Ross would capture a three-hole playoff for medalist honors.

Oak Hill senior Jacob Mills provided another individual highlight when his first shot of the round on No. 8 rolled into the cup for his first ever hole-in-one.

The Eagles finished with 327 and the Panthers followed with 333, and the rounds were easily their best team rounds of the season. Mississinewa finished third at 344 and Madison-Grant trailed the eight-team field with 413.

Conditions have been miserable to play golf so far this spring, and Saturday certainly was no exception.

"Given how strong the wind was and all the rain throughout the entire back nine, that was easily the best round I've played," said Ross, who had shot 70 in last year's CIC meet. "Toward the end the temperatures dropped 10 degrees and it was hard to feel our hands. You just had to fight through it."

Ross, who will play golf at Taylor University this fall, had birdies on five, six and seven and another on nine put him at 3-under par at the turn. The senior started the back with a fourth birdie on 10 before succumbing to the conditions somewhat and finishing at 3-over par.

"I hadn't been able to put an 18-hole round together until today," Ross said. "I've been pretty inconsistent, but today I settled in and finally put a full 18-hole round together."

LaFavour's 71 was his lowest score for a competitive tournament round, although he had shot par on other occassions. The senior had birdies on holes five and seven and reached eight greens in regulation, but his short game saved him throughout his round.

"I kept saving par and chipping helped me today," Lafavour said. "I only hit eight greens and had nine saves and that made up for it. I felt like I had been playing pretty consistent for the past two weeks, so I felt like I was going to come out and hit the ball well today.

"It helped having somebody play well alongside me," added Lafavour, who was in the same group with Ross. "I had a lot of fun and felt all the pressure when he made 10-foot putts it was on me, so I had to do the same thing and bounce back from it."

LaFavour kept pace with Ross and was one shot behind through nine holes, then overtook him and had a one-shot advantage with three holes to play. Following the awards ceremony, the two went back out to brave the elements again and break the tie, which Ross did with a birdie on the third extra hole.

"The biggest challenge was definitely playing against Blake and going low the whole time," Ross said. "Against most of the schools around here that score is going to win 9 out of 10 times. But it's good to have someone push you and compete against rather go out and shoot as low as you can. That was the hardest part but also the most fun for me."

Mills started the round on No. 8 in the shotgun start and was startled when his tee shot he believed was short of the green wound up in the cup for an ace.

"(No. 8) is a short par 3 ...  and the ball bounced off the front end of the hill and rolled right in," Mills said. "I couldn't believe my eyes. What a great way to start the day."

The ace helped Mills finish with an 84, his best round since a 79 in last year's CIC meet, and was second-best among the Eagles golfers. Grant Gillespie and Logan Deaton each shot 86s to round out the scoring, and coach Gerry Conway was especially pleased with the performances for the weather conditions.

"We played a great front nine and had a 156 at the turn, and then the rain came heavier in back nine," Conway said. "Our score today would be competitive at our sectional, and to do it in these conditions, we're real happy with that."

Collin Burman added an 80 for Eastbrook that was tied for third best overall and earned him all-conference honors. The Panthers also counted Gaven Bright's 89 and Tyler Harness' 93.

"I have said if we could break 350 this season I'd be estatic, and we broke 340 today," Panthers coach Adlai Deisler said. "A 330 would get us out of sectional, and we still have room to grow."

Mississinewa had three all-conference performers: Bryce Luedtke with an 80, Ty Corey 82 and Justin Dakin 83. The Indians also counted Ryan Scott with a 99.

Jonah Johnson led Madison-Grant with a 94, followed by Allerdyce 103, Hayden Retherford 104 and Denver and Conway Harpe each with 112s.