2015-03-12 / Sports

Kearsley bowlers repeat state sweep

By Dan Nilsen
810-452-2655 • dnilsen@mihomepaper.com

The Kearsley bowling teams took the Div. 2 titles for the second straight year. 
Photo provided The Kearsley bowling teams took the Div. 2 titles for the second straight year. Photo provided WATERFORD – Kearsley High swept both the boys’ and girls’ state bowling championships for the second straight year last Friday, taking the Div. 2 team titles by narrow margins at Century Lanes.

The Hornets nipped Bay City Western by seven pins in the boys’ final, 1,351-1,344, while the Lady Hornets edged the Western girls by 30 pins, 1,242-1,212.

Chad Stephen also gave Kearsley an individual championship, winning the boys’ singles title on Saturday.

Kearsley was only the second school in the 12-year history of the state tournament to win both team titles in the same year last season, and the repeat by the boys’ and girls’ teams is a feat unlikely to be matched for some time.

“When all was said and done, we had several teachers from the school, the athletic director, the assistant superintendent, some of the school board members, and they were saying this is like a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Kearsley girls’ coach Rob Ploof. “It may never be done again.”

Chad Stephen Chad Stephen The Hornets won last year’s titles by 83 and 147 pins, respectively, but these finals were nail-biters.

The girls finished first in qualifying with 3,221 pins, then routed Tecumseh 1,272-1,088 and Charlotte 1,338-1,117 to reach the title match. Bay City Western won the first Baker game 211-144 to put the Hornets in a 67-pin deficit.

“We had a big hole to come out of, but the girls stayed calm,” said Ploof. “We have five seniors and they just said let’s chip away at it. That’s what we did.”

Kearsley lost the second Baker game 178-176 but then routed Western by 99 pins in the regular game 922-823. Junior Hannah Ploof, limping with a partially torn Achilles’ tendon for the last month, rolled a 238 and Alexxa Flood had a 199. Haleigh Rybka added a 188.

The boys also qualified first with a 3,689 total, then squeaked past Coldwater 1,354-1,325 and Taylor Kennedy 1,372-1,351. In the final against Western, the Hornets lost both Baker games 160-152 and 173-168, but won the regular game 1,031-1,011. Anthony Kelley had a 226 game, and Stephen and Phillip Hawes combined on 228. Ben Roof and KC O’Brien combined on a 200, Brandon Richard rolled a 192 and Lucas Schofield a 185.

“I’m so proud of my boys,” said coach Bart Rutledge. “They could have mailed it in at the start of the year when we started 0-2, but they didn’t. We worked hard and fought back to win again.”

In Saturday’s singles tourney, Stephen qualified fifth and won his first two matches by more than 50 pins each. He then edged senior teammate Kelley 381- 363 in the semifinals and beat Charlotte’s Collin Fox 413-386 for the title. Kelley earned the 16th and final qualifying spot by 11 pins, then knocked off the No. 1 seed by 42 pins and won his quarterfinal by 195 to reach the semis.

Hannah Ploof qualified fifth in the girls’ singles but lost her first match. Flood missed match play by four pins, finishing 18th, and Dani Doolan was 20th, missing the top 16 by 28 pins.

Div. 4

Bendle girls reached the semifinals of the Div. 4 state finals last Friday at Royal Scot Lanes in Lansing. The Lady Tigers finished fourth in qualifying, then edged Portland St. Patrick by one pin, 1,033-1,032, in the match play quarterfinals. They were eliminated by Clinton 1,111-1,072 in the semis.

Bendle sophomore Savanah Senters was the highest area finisher in Saturday’s singles, placing 31st with 1,015 pins to miss match play by 64.

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