When the Baton Rouge/NOLA/Hammond biregional of the LHSAA bowling playoffs takes place Tuesday at All-Star Lanes-BR, Brother Martin coach Bruce Himbert knows his team walks in as the top seed, the favorite and the defending champions.
“It’s very tough to defend. Everyone wants to be the one to stop you, and so you get everyone’s best shot,” Himbert said.
The Crusaders are the top seed and if seedings hold, they will have to go through some of NOLA’s top seeds in their half of the bracket. Brother Martin will need to win two matches to advance to the state semifinals which are set for April 8, also at All-Star BR.
At 10:45 a.m., play will start as No. 7 seed St. Amant meets No. 10 St. Paul’s. Last year’s runner-up, Central, is the six seed and faces No. 11 Madison Prep. No. 5 Dutchtown gets No. 12 Denham Springs and No. 8 Salmen meets No 9 Jesuit.
At 1 p.m., the four top seeds will bowl as Brother Martin gets the Salmen-Jesuit winner and in that side of the bracket No. 4 seed Shaw faces the Dutchtown-DSHS victor. On the other side, Catholic of Baton Rouge is the two seed meeting either St. Amant or St. Paul’s, while No. 3 Albany gets the Central-Madison Prep winner. The four winners meet in matches at 3:30 p.m.
Brother Martin posted 1,226 based on the top six players’ averages that have bowled at least half the season for the team, more than 130 pins better than second seed Catholic. The Crusaders not only reloaded, they may have gotten better.
“This team may be the strongest from top to bottom I’ve ever coached,” Himbert said. “We have a chance as long as they make spares to get back to the final four.”
Kyle Schneider and Cody Schaffer have 213 averages to lead the Crusaders.
Shaw (10-1) may be a surprising lower fourth seed, although based on wins third seed Albany (11-0) got the nod. But average wise Shaw can throw a 1,065 on paper, while Albany’s average is 981. Seven schools in the biregionals have a higher posted team average, but it is again who bowls best under the bright lights that gets a chance to bowl for a title.
One of those hoping to get back to the last four is undefeated Catholic.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when we started practicing,” said Catholic coach Robin Deck. “We had a 15-man roster and only five returning members, so most of our bowlers were new. However, having 15 and only room for 10 in any given match meant that they had to learn how to fight for their place in the roster each week. I think that fighting spirit has really helped them bond as a team.”
Austin Bertrand leads Catholic with a 206 average, but it was Brian Dinh who posted a 290 game to lead the team in round one of the playoffs.
The girls side finds the defending champs and runner-up in the same biregional, but they again couldn’t rematch until a possible state title faceoff. Central, the runner-ups a year ago, is the one seed and needs only to win one match at 3:30 against either No. 4 Cabrini or No. 5 Albany to get back to the state semifinals.
Defending state champ St. Scholastica is the two seed and meets No. 7 East Ascension at 1 p.m., and the winner of that match will face the winner of the 3-6 match between St. Michael the Archangel and Academy of Our Lady. The winner-winner match is at 3:30.
“The girls are ready,” said Central coach Phil Godley, who coaches both the boys/coed and girls squads. “I’m so happy with the progress they’ve made since last year. Plus we’re in a great spot being the 1 seed and only having to bowl one match.”
Central comes in with an on-paper average of 1,010, led by Brianna McCurley and Sarah LeDuff each with a 179 average. St. Scholastica is led by Meghan Kreeger at 170.
The biregionals in singles will also begin at 10:45 a.m. for the boys and 1 p.m. for the girls and all team bowlers are still alive for that individual honor as well as another 17 boys and 12 girls whose teams did not advance.
There will be a $5 admission charge at the door.
Southland Bowling League
Tulane finished its season with a sixth-place finish at the Southland Bowling League Championships at All-Star Lanes Kenner this past weekend. The Wave was 1-2 in matches, finally eliminated in the third match by Stephen F. Austin.
Top-seeded Arkansas State won the title by defeating third-seeded Sam Houston State in a 4-0 sweep in the baker scoring championship match.
Arkansas State beat Vanderbilt, 4-1, to advance to the championship match winning by games of 177-176, 159-142, 200-152 and 200-155.
Last year, four teams from the league made the final 8 of women’s bowling’s NCAA Championships (which will be held in Baton Rouge next year).
There is a good chance three or four from the league will be involved in this year’s finals in April.
Prep bowling takes our emphasis at this time of year, but please notice the honor roll and the tightness of house leading scores. Perfect 300 games for Dick Loudenslager, Calvin Anderson, Gordon Stuntz, Donny Green, Ryan Ayme and two for Brian Yoches in a week. Shane Starns bowled 275, 118 pins over average, as Wesley Tanner bowled his first 700 (708) and Josh Holdman his first 600 (609). Emily Broussard had her first 200 game while senior bowler Eva Newman rolled 616 (226).
Wednesday, results from All-Star and our next column is on April 12. Until then, good luck and good bowling.