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LOUISVILLE – There is nothing better than beating your number one rival.
The feeling is even better when you beat your number one rival in a best of five format after trailing 0-2.
The Bullitt Central boys’ bowling team did just that in the Region 3 Tournament recently at Fern Valley Strike and Spare, rallying from a big hole to defeat arch-rival Pleasure Ridge Park in the tourney semi-finals. A year ago, PRP had beaten Bullitt Central in the final.
After rallying for the big win over PRP, the state runner-up last season, the Cougars came back to beat Fern Creek in the final, in an even longer match, to claim the program’s first regional title.
“Beating PRP and Fern Creek was big. Those are the top two teams in the region along with us,” veteran Bullitt Central head coach Benita McBride said later. “Beating PRP was a knock-out for us.”
The big finish was not unexpected for McBride.
“I told the boys before the season that we were going to state,” the coach said.
That didn’t seem to be in the cards when the Cougars fell behind 0-2 (209-184, 269-234) in the Baker games despite the 234.
“They had a team meeting,” McBride recalled. “They decided this is not how they are going out.”
The Cougars rallied to win the next three games 217-180, 215-180 and 228-216.
Bullitt Central sophomore Jared Borah, who would later qualify for the state tournament in singles also, recalled his father, the team’s assistant coach, with a big rallying speech.
“My dad got us fired up,” Borah recalled. “He had a great inspirational speech. After we won our first one, they got scared of us. It was great to take out PRP.”
Bullitt Central senior Ridge May, one of two seniors in the program, thought beating PRP was a much bigger accomplishment than beating Fern Creek in the final.
“Beating PRP,” he said with a big smile a few days later. “I don’t really know (what changed). We got fired up after the second loss. We got louder than they were.
“We pretty much expected it,” the senior added. “We have a good team with a lot of heart.”
But the day was not over. There was still the match against Fern Creek, a team that had beaten North Bullitt in the other semi-final. Bullitt Central had beaten the Tigers a year ago in the semi-finals.
This time, nothing was decided in the first Baker game as the teams tied at 181. That forced six games to be played before the Cougars won the necessary three games. Bullitt Central won the second, fourth and sixth games 183-139, 21-180 and 205-171. Fern Creek won the two odd numbered games 237-159 and 201-159.
In the early qualifying, Bullitt Central’s two four-men teams combined for an 1105 total, one pin behind North Bullitt for third and fourth. PRP had the top seed at 1195 while Fern Creek was second at 1157.
Bullitt East was also competing and was seeded 11th with an 843.
In the quarter-finals, Bullitt Central beat Jeffersontown 3-1 and North Bullitt got the best of Moore, the team that beaten Bullitt East in the opening round.
Bullitt Central’s four bowlers in the ‘Baker’ games are senior Josh Puher and Ridge May along with junior Matt Seay and sophomore Jared Borah. In the early rounds, the four additional players that bowl include the all-sophomore group of Nolan Johns, Christien Owen, Stetson Norton and Tristan Lindsey.
Now, both Bullitt Central and Fern Creek will advance to this week’s Kentucky State Bowling Tournament at Collins Eastland Lanes in Lexington. The team competition will be held on Friday with the boys’ event in the morning. The individual state finals will be on Thursday.
The goal for Bullitt Central?
“Win it,” May said. “Win it all. We’ll need a lot of 240s. We started doing that toward the end of the year.”
Lady year, Bullitt Central qualified sixth when the tournament was held at Executive Bowl in Louisville. The Cougars then sputtered in bracket play, falling in the first round to Fleming County.
Borah and most of the rest of the Bullitt Central bowlers have competed at the Collins Eastland Lanes before in some league action.