Eighth-grader big for Christ School at Palmetto

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OCEAN ISLAND BEACH, N.C. –– What happens when a team is missing its best player?

In most cases, the No. 2 or 3 guy steps up to fill the top spot in the lineup. In the case of Christ School from Arden, N.C., it was an eighth-grader who provided a lift Thursday in the qualifying round of the Palmetto High School Championship.

Carson Ownbey shot 74 last week to earn a spot in coach David Gaines' lineup, which would be without junior Jonathan Rector, a Clemson commit who is playing in an AJGA event this weekend. Thursday, Ownbey carded a 3-over 75 at Ocean Ridge Plantation's Panther's Run course to help Christ School grab second place in the qualifier and earn a spot in the championship flight, to be played over 36 holes Friday and Saturday.

"This was really a good test because these kids have kind of become comfortable with Jonathan (a winner at the North Carolina High School Invitational on Monday) being in the lineup and shooting low numbers," Gaines said. "We've gotta find six guys that can play the state tournament for us, and it was nice to see our eighth-grader come out and put a good score on the board early."

Last season, Christ School was two shots away from a state championship. Now, the young squad of four sophomores and an eighth-grader is trying to post a good finish at the Palmetto in hopes of gaining confidence entering next month's state tournament.

"We've done what we wanted to do and that was qualify for the championship flight and now with everything starting over in essence, this mirrors our state tournament with 36 holes in two days," Gaines said, "and now we have to go and produce."

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