St. James will be the team to beat in the upcoming years as these young Lady Sharks are becoming a perennial powerhouse in high school golf.
The defending state champions showed they will be a force to be reckoned with as they won the Class AAAA South Carolina State Championship by dominating the field of top 16 teams in the state last Monday and Tuesday at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina.
The Lady Sharks shot a total of 630 to win the two-day tournament by a 38 stroke margin. Their next closest rival was Greenville with 668, followed by Daniel (677), Travelers Rests (680) and Hartsville with 728 strokes.
“We improved our overall score by 24 strokes from last year and we can do better,” St. James coach Denise Noll said. “We have a very young team but they are strong players.”
The strength of this team is sophomore Smith Knaffle who was the overall individual medalist of the tournament with two 69’s for both days to finish at 138. She was the only player to shoot below par in the tournament and led her closest competitor by 10 strokes. But she is helped immensely by the strong efforts of her teammates.
Scoring for the Lady Sharks were: sophomore Smith Knaffle with a 69/69 (138); seventh-grader Adrian Anderson 79/79 (158); junior Jordan White 81/82 (163); eighth-grader Amanda Meno 85/86 (171) and sophomore Katie Smith with a 90/89 for the two-day event totaling 179 strokes.
“I think the depth of our team is what made the difference,” Coach Noll said. “The fact that we have so many girls that can shoot such low scores.”
The 15-year-old Knaffle was six under par for the two days and felt good about her performance having eagled hole No. 16 on both days of the tournament. She said her teammates knew this course well and played their best game. Also, winning the Lower State Championship the week before really helped to boost their confidence.
“Our season has been good this year and we have been getting progressively better every tournament,” Knaffle said. “We are young and we have a lot of room to improve. Our future should be bright for the next few years.”
Another rising star on the Lady Shark team is Adrian Anderson who had a pair of 79’s for her team. Her coach said she has played solid all year but she really stepped up her game for her first state championship match.
“I made my personal best today and yesterday and I’m really proud of myself,” Anderson said. “It feels great to be on a state championship team.”
Coach Noll was also pleased with her team’s overall performance and stated they should be even better next year. The Lady Sharks will return the same team next season. Noll was excited as to just how good this team could get as she exclaimed the possibilities are endless.
“We feel great and we accomplished all our goals,” the third-year coach said. “My players handled the pressure well and when they had a bad hole they persevered and worked through it. I think most of them could have shot even better. Anyway, it’s nice to be the defending state champions.”
The Lady Sharks were undefeated in their region at 4-0 and completed their season with an overall 10-0 record.
Myrtle Beach finished 12th in the tournament at 766 with Seahawk Taylor Pirttima leading her team at 89/92 for 181 strokes. North Myrtle Beach played host to the event and finished 16th with Gabby Spoone shooting 85/102 for a two-day total of 187 strokes.