BENTON — Faced with a 3-foot putt to win the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Division I girls team state championship for Zachary High School, Paige Johnson seemed poised to make it happen on the third playoff hole at Palmetto Country Club.
Then the worst happened — her putt slid by on the left side to 3 feet and St. Michael’s Camille Savoie, who had just double-bogeyed, looked up with hope. But Johnson, a slight-of-frame sophomore with the headiness of a senior, composed herself and calmly sank her bogey putt for the victory just as the sun began setting and the bullfrogs began croaking.
“I was trying to be really positive, because my round hadn’t ended that great,” Johnson said. “I was shaking on both putts, but I’ve been to state before so I knew what it took.”
Three Baton Rouge teams — Zachary, St. Michael and St. Joseph’s — all tied for the team title with 355 scores, mandating the playoff. St. Joseph’s Jessica Varner was eliminated on the first hole when she missed a 12-footer.
The victory gives the Broncos two state golf titles in the last three years. Zachary won the Division I boys title in 2012.
“It was really a unique situation,” ZHS coach Clark Engemann said. “For all three of us to finish with a 355 strokes after 36 holes was incredible. We have five girls and they all can’t play, but they have a role.
“Certainly, our metro league helped prepare us for this. I think the Baton Rouge area is one of the best in Louisiana for girls golf. It was tough for St. Joseph’s and St. Michael not to win because they played well too. But I’m super proud of my girls.”
Varner and Savoie both finished at 172 in the individual standings, while Zachary’s Johnson finished with 174.
There was no drama in Division II as another local team, University High, finished at 333 after Anna Heine shot 154 and Maggie Westbrook shot 179 over the two days of competition. Notre Dame finished second with 358 behind Cassidy Goff and Emily Lucas, who posted a 179 apiece.
In the individual races, St. Louis Catholic senior Olivia Hansen ran away with the D-I title with a 146 after carding a 1-under 71 on Tuesday, her lowest career score. East Iberville freshman Julia Johnson posted the lowest score of the tournament, a 70, for a 146 total and the Division II crown.
“To win this thing I would have had to shoot a 68 today because this girl was amazing,” D-I second-place finisher Mary Frances Chauvin (Hammond) said about Hansen.
Hansen tied her career low score of 75 on Monday, then was all smiles on Tuesday after the 71 set a new standard for the McNeese State-signee.
“My day got off to a good start today — I parred the first hole and I just kept the pars going — and I had a very good front with a 33,” Hansen said. “On the back I slowed down a little, but I still had a good back. I went into the water on 14, but other than that I played good today.”
Chauvin shot a 154, while Neville’s Aoife O’Donovan, who was fifth after the first day, shot 160 to pick up third place in D-I.
Johnson, who led D-II after the first day battled the wind and a rough start to the day to win the title over LSU signee Sydney Cavin of Dunham (153) and Heine (154).
“I started off bogey-bogey, 2-over after three, but I had a birdie on four and that kind ofpicked me up,” Johnson said. “I felt really good about the way I was hitting it today. I was playing solid golf. I finished 18 with a birdie, which felt great.”