PONTOTOC - The New Albany Lady Bulldogs are the 2021 Class II Region 3 champions as they finished six strokes ahead of second-place Water Valley. 

Caroline King of New Albany was the medalist as she finished the course at Pontotoc Country Club with an 80, edging Sydney Epes of Water Valley by one stroke. 

"We were really excited to win and qualify for state!" King said. "After having the season cancelled last year, we were excited to have a chance to get back to the state tournament. It was nice to get the win over Water Valley because they are a great team.

"We knew it was going to be very important for all three of us to win our matches. I was really proud of how Lucy and Sylvie battled to win both their matches. We’ve had so many close contests with Water Valley throughout the season, we knew we would have to go into the match clear minded and hit the shots we’ve been practicing the past few months." 

Lucy King placed third for the Lady Bulldogs with her round of 94. Sylvie Russell was eight shots off King's with her 102. 

King's medalist performance could not have come at a better time against Epes who is a very good golfer.

I’ve loved playing with and against Sydney because she is such a great golfer and competitor," King said. "Going into the match I really had to focus playing my own game to try and limit the mistakes that have been holding me back. I was really proud to be medalist, but just so excited to be going back to the state tournament."

Team competition saw the Lady Bulldogs finish the course with a 174. Water Valley was second with a 180. 

"Really proud of our girls," New Albany coach Shane Sanderson said. "We were finally on the right side of the flagstick. Today was a lot of fun."

King shared how special the experience has been so far and has been much more special it had been by sharing the joys and wins with her younger sister.

"I’m really blessed to not only have Lucy but Sylvie as teammates," King said. "It is such a unique experience to share this with my sister but also with a life long friend that feels like a sister. These bonds not only make golf fun but a competitive place to get better.

"Lucy has come so far in a short amount of time, it has blown any expectations we had for her this season. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by great people who don’t take losing as an option. We’ve put in some hard work and I can’t wait to see where it leads us!"

New Albany will move on to play in the Class II State Championships on April 26-27.

"This year's state tournament is April 26-27 at Timberton Golf Club in Hattiesburg," King said. "We have some time before state to really pick out parts of our game that we have struggled with. All three of us have been practicing our approach shots and putting to work on our game.

"I’m certain we will improve in the time between to compete with the other greats teams we will meet in Hattiesburg. We will need to play two great days of golf with very few mistakes to pull out the win."

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