ANGELS CAMP — The usual suspects finished atop the leaderboard at Tuesday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division V boys golf championships at Saddle Creek Golf Course in Angels Camp.
Mother Lode League champion Bret Harte won the team title with a collective score of 419, advancing to next Tuesday's section Masters Championship at Stevinson Ranch Golf Course.
And Western Athletic Conference champion Central Catholic sent its top two individuals to Masters as well. No. 1 golfer Victtor Lopez shot a 7-over-par 79, one stroke behind medalist Brendan Warner of Bret Harte. And the Raiders' No. 2 golfer William Bettencourt shot an 81, also good enough to advance to Masters.
But the third individual to advance to the Masters tournament was Orestimba junior Jaime Cruz, who shot an 83. And he surprised even himself in advancing.
"I didn't think I was capable of shooting an 83 out here," said Cruz, the fourth individual to advance out of last week's WAC Tournament. "I'm completely shocked."
At a course where he'd only played one practice round, Cruz shot his career best for any regulation golf course.
"Normally, I'm in the high 80s or even low 90s," Cruz said. "This is just unreal."
Cruz began his day on hole No. 11, and quickly realized he could have a good day. He was playing well, and a little luck didn't hurt. That came on his second hole, a 325-yard par-4 that doglegged to the right.
"I chipped in from about 15 yards away to save a par," he said. "That shot gave me a lot of confidence. After that, it was a steady bunch of pars and bogeys. I felt good after that shot and never stopped feeling good."
The Central Catholic duo of Lopez and Bettencourt have been doing it all year for the Raiders, and now they're moving on to Stevinson Ranch.
"I was hitting the ball pretty well for most of my round," Lopez said. "I did some weird things off the tee at times, but I was able to keep it together."
He'll be playing a course that he's far more familiar with in Stevinson Ranch.
"Definitely know Stevinson more than here," Lopez said. "We'll have to see what happens."
Bettencourt, meanwhile, felt he was in the mix to go on after his 81.
"We played a practice round out there and I shot an 83," he said. "My coach (Dave Quintal) told me that it was going to take something in the low 80s to go on."
Putting was Bettencourt's biggest problem.
"I hit the ball well enough to score in the high 70s," he said. "Hopefully I'll make more putts next week."
Bret Harte rolled to the team title, 13 strokes ahead of runner-up Central Catholic.
"We had an advantage in the course," Bullfrogs coach Rich Cathcart said. "This can be a tough course to play, and it's our home course. Our record in dual meets up here is pretty amazing."
Bret Harte is a young team. Cathcart counts three freshmen among his all-underclassman lineup. He likes their work ethic even more than their age.
"They're always out here, playing and working on their games," he said. "Sometimes I feel like I have to drag them off the course."
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.