BETHLEHEM Count Bethlehem as a Section II Class A boys golf title contender.
Three Eagles placed in the top 10 to lead Bethlehem to the team title at Thursday's Suburban Council Tournament. Bethlehem finished with a team score of 462, six strokes ahead of a Shenendehowa squad that beat the Eagles two days earlier in a Suburban Council match.
"This is the first time we've come in first [place] in several years," said Bethlehem coach Richard Villa.
Jeff Palmerino and Victor Fox led the Eagles by taking the top two places in the individual standings. Palmerino earned top medalist honors by compiling an 18-hole score of 68, while Fox placed second with a score of 70.
That result marked a slight reversal of fortune for the Bethlehem duo. Fox -- who competed on the national junior circuit during the summer -- had been the Eagles' leader through much of the team's 12 regular season matches, with Palmerino often placing second.
"On any given day with two really good players like that, you never know which one will lead you," said Villa. "Victor [Fox] has been our leading scorer most of the time, but Jeff [Palmerino] is just as capable of doing it."
Shen also placed three golfers in the top 10, as Alex Kinkaid, DJ Tozier and Bryan Leggett all tied for sixth place with a score of 75. But it wasn't enough for the Plainsmen to overcome Bethlehem's 1-2 punch of Palmerino and Fox.
"Shen is an older team," said Villa. "They have six seniors on the team, and they are led by those six seniors."
Mike DeBerry finished ninth for Bethlehem with a score of 76, and Max Leavett recorded a score of 79 to be part of a four-way tie for 18th place.
The victory at the Suburban Council Tournament propels Bethlehem into the final stretch of the regular season. The Eagles have four matches before the Section II Class A championships in two weeks at the Town of Colonie Golf Course.
"We have a really good chance to win our division," said Villa. "If we win our remaining matches, we [also] have a good opportunity to finish with the best record in the Suburban Council or at least tie for it."