Granite Bay golfers do their version of "That 70s Show"

With five players breaking 80, Grizzlies better NorCal, SoCal powers to pin down their first state crown
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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The practice round paid off; the preparation, too.

The noting of the pin placements, how to approach the greens, it all worked in Granite Bay’s favor Wednesday.

The Grizzlies, their last of several goals met just by qualifying for the CIF/CGA High School State Championships, bettered even themselves by winning the whole thing.

Granite Bay signed five scorecards with rounds in the 70s for a 19-over-par 374 at San Gabriel Country Club. That was two strokes better than Northern California champion Pleasanton-Foothill and four better than Pebble Beach-Robert Louis Stevenson.

The 1-2-3 NorCal finish topped Southern California powers Torrey Pines (381) and Santa Margarita (385). Clovis West was sixth at 388. Del Oro's Austin Smotherman made it an all-Placer County celebration by winning the individual championship with a sizzling 4-under 67.

Grizzlies coach Terry Stafford spoke about what was believed to be the first team state championship for Granite Bay.

“Just letting my heart slow down,” Stafford said mere minutes after Granite Bay’s title became official. “Disbelief that we pulled it out. Torrey Pines was here. Santa Margarita, all these big L.A. programs. We were able to grind it out and shoot low enough. That’s the bottom line.”

The Grizzlies flew south early Tuesday and went to San Gabriel for a practice round. The pins, accessible Tuesday, were moved to what Stafford described as “really, really tough pin placements” for the tournament.

“Some of these kids, I guess, weren’t used to them,” Stafford said.

Foothill had three scores in the high 70s, as did Stevenson. Two rounds of 76, a 78 and an 80 didn’t get it done for Torrey Pines, and a 68 and 69 for Santa Margarita couldn’t cover rounds of 79, 83 and 86.

Senior Alex Gibbs said the Grizzlies mapped all the pin locations Tuesday and knew where to put their approach shots.

Freshman Jeffrey Inouye-Wong led Granite Bay with a 1-over 72. Juniors Brandon Baumgarten and Chuck Pedone shot 73 and 74, Gibbs a 76 and junior Bryan Wise a 79.

“We were sort of stressing at the end, watching everybody come in,” Inouye-Wong said. “It’s amazing, once in a lifetime really, and I get to do it as a freshman. I’m just enjoying it.”

The Grizzlies had some stressful moments on the course, too, but came through.

Inouye-Wong landed in sand traps on his first two holes but hit both bunker shots to within tap-in distance. Wise had a ball get stuck in a tree. Baumgarten hit a ball into the water on a par 3 and then almost chipped in from over the water.

“People would get down a little bit and come with a birdie,” Stafford said. “Everybody just kept grinding.”

While not playing his best round, Gibbs, Granite Bay’s low scorer this season, managed to make needed par putts, and Granite Bay became the first NorCal team to win a state title since Concord-De La Salle in 2006 and the first public school to win since Del Campo in 1977.

“We’ve worked so hard all year,” Gibbs said. “We came in as the underdog team but played collectively well enough to beat all the top teams. This is the best high school tournament in California, so it feels really amazing. We deserve it.”