LOUISVILLE – Dreams and expectations were running high for both the North Bullitt girls and the Bullitt Central boys as they headed into the bracket portion of the Ebonite/Kentucky High School Bowling Tournament at Executive Lanes.
Unfortunately, neither team could sustain some early momentum and both were on the sideline earlier than they wished.
In the girls’ team tournament, North Bullitt, the 2009 state champions, were seeded seventh and coach Thomas Druen’s team beat Campbell County 3-1 to open bracket play.
That was the end of the road for the Lady Eagles as they let some early chances get away from them in the quarter-finals as they lost to Taylor County 3-0. Taylor County would go on to defeat Pleasure Ridge Park for the state title.
On the boys’ side on Friday, Bullitt Central put together one of its best qualifying rounds of the season to be seeded sixth in the 16-team field. As it turned out, the Cougars could not carry that over to bracket play as they were defeated 3-0 by Fleming County.
On Thursday, both North Bullitt junior Courtney Donaldson and Bullitt Central senior Jareth Howerton competed in the state finals in singles. Neither bowler was able to reach the final eight.
Making a fifth straight appearance in the state finals, North Bullitt always feels that they can make a big run when the pressure is on.
Druen, who was an assistant coach when the Lady Eagles won it all in 2009, felt his team could make a run again this year, but the green and gold ran into more than they could handle in the quarter-finals against Taylor County.
North Bullitt had an average qualifying round of 1010 to be seventh for bracket play.
That meant an opening round match against Campbell County, a match that North Bullitt won 3-1 (162-136, 209-146, 146-172, 179-168) in ‘Baker’ games.
That set up the quarter-final match with Taylor County, the number two seed
For two games, North Bullitt let good chances slip away as they were beaten 182-166 and 163-151. It all ended quickly in the third game was Taylor County opened with six consecutive strikes to score an impressive 260 game. North Bullitt just bowled out the second half of the game for fun to finish at 165. The 260 game was 23 pins better than any other game in the bracket play.
“Taylor County is one of the best teams in the state and they have been for a long time,” Druen said as his team filtered off the lanes to meet their parents. “We still had a good shot.
“We struggled with some frames that should not have been left open,” the coach added. “We had some chances in the first two games, but then they had that 260. In a ‘Baker’ match that will beat most boys’ teams.”
North Bullitt had just one senior, Tori Helton. She, along with juniors Donaldson and junior Kayla Ranschaert, combined for a 655 in the qualifying round, the best score by 41 pins.
Helton has been accepted to Morehead State University and she hopes to join that schools’ bowling program.
“I’m glad I lost to a 260,” Helton said after wiping away tears a moment earlier. “It was a little disappointing, but I love my team.”
North Bullitt has just seven bowlers (most teams qualify with eight bowlers). The Lady Eagles’ second qualifying team was made up of Lacy Hadley, Ashley Hewitt, Ralene Slusher and Maiyuki Druen.
On Thursday, Donaldson bowled in the state singles final. The junior rolled games of 198-182-172 for a series score of 552. That was good for 18th overall. It would have taken a 599 to reach the final eight and continue in the tournament.
After starting the state finals with a 1216 qualifying score, hopes soared for a big day for the Bullitt Central Cougars.
Coming out seeded sixth, the Cougars then rolled three straight strikes as they opened bracket play against Fleming County. But then the wheels fell off. The Cougars began to struggle on their first throws and couldn’t convert difficult spares.
Fleming County then roared ahead to win 201-191, 205-160 and 201-171.
“They were hitting the pocket, but the pocket was not our friend today,” long-time Bullitt Central coach Benita McBride said when the day was done. “A lot of those nines and eights could have been strikes.”
All of the teams had to move to different lanes after the qualifying round and the Cougars could just not get comfortable in their second surroundings.
“That is always part of bowling,” McBride said of figuring out lane conditions on the move.
Members of the Bullitt Central team on Friday were Chris Tyler, Jared Borah, Ridge May, Joshua Puher, James Stottman, Stetson Norton, Jareth Howerton, Matthew Seay, Jeff Hiner, Cody Williams, Nolan Johns and Christian Owens.
On Thursday, Howerton competed in the boys’ state singles final and struggled to find his game. The senior bowled a 175-173-151 for a 499 series and was well off the pace for the top eight slots that advanced to bowl two more games.
McBride says that the Cougars will return nine of their top 14 bowlers for next season and she expects another strong season.