If Central High School bowling coach Phil Godley is out looking for four-leaf clovers or puts some lucky coins in his pocket before Tuesday’s BR-NOLA prep bowling biregional, it is completely understandable when you remember the bad luck of the past two years.
Both years, strong Central teams went down. It was an in-match back injury to its top bowler in 2013, and last year Godley watched as both his open and girls division teams both lost in the final frame of the third match within a 20-minute period at All-Star Lanes in Kenner.
There is a confidence that those things are behind them and they have the ability to complete the job and get to the state semifinals on April 10 in Lafayette. For one thing, the home lane advantage will find them competing at All-Star Lanes in Baton Rouge.
Ten open division teams will be in action for two spots with Madison Prep (seeded No. 7) meeting St. Michael the Archangel (No. 10) and Archbishop Shaw (8) facing Broadmoor (9) in the two opening matches at 11 a.m.
Brother Martin is the top seed, another team looking to break through for a title after making the semifinals a year ago, and will meet the Shaw-Broadmoor winner, while Central is seeded second and guaranteed a BR opponent against the 7-10 match winner. Those matches are set for 1:15 p.m. along with the Dutchtown (3)-Jesuit (6) and Archbishop Rummel (4)-St. Amant (5) matches. The final matches for the right to go to Lafayette are at 3:30 p.m.
Last year, Central’s open division team, seeded fifth, was a frame away from upsetting top-seed Brother Martin, but that one frame was the 10th and Central couldn’t keep pace with the Crusaders onslaught of multiple strikes that gave them enough pins to win the three-bonus points for total pins, 15-12. Just moments later, the Central girls fell in the same matter, but in this case the seeds were reversed with Central the top seed and St. Scholastica the 5 seed. It was down to one final shot and the ability to just keep the ball on the lane was the difference in St. Scholastica advancing with a 15-12 win in total pins.
“It was rough for all of us, but we’re stronger because of it,” Godley said about that day. “(The bowlers) believe they can win every match and last year serves as a great reminder anything can happen.”
Godley said despite the last two years, this is the time for his teams. “These are the best teams Central has ever had to offer, and both teams are hungry to make it to the final four. We’ve never done it, and with both teams coming so close last year, we are definitely not lacking motivation.
St. Scholastica (1) and Central (2) are on opposite sides this year and are already in the 3:30 p.m. advancing match on the girl’s side. Central will meet the winner of the match between St. Joseph’s Academy (3) and four-time state champ Denham Springs (6), while St. Scholastica will meet the 4-5 match between defending champ Albany and Academy of Our Lady. Those two matches are at 1:15 p.m.
The Central open team is led by defending state singles champ Jacob Garretson who averaged 216 and won 32.5 of 34 possible games this year. Dylan Ringo averaged 186 and won 32 of 32 games, while Parker Aucoin won 25.5 of 28 points with a 198 average.
The Central girls will look for success from Haley Young (179 average) and Sarah LeDuff at 184.
The matches are three games, best of 27 points. Six bowlers line up head-to-head from lowest to highest average with one point for each match and two points for the team total each game. There are three bonus points that can decide the match based on total pins.
Which makes handicapping these matches very interesting and where Baton Rouge area teams have struggled in the past is in the 1-2-3 average positions as teams like Brother Martin will post team lineups with no average below 188.
But what makes this year’s biregional more interesting is that teams like Central and Dutchtown may have more of a fighting chance in open division play. Central averages 1,094 in the open division and on paper Brother Martin could post a lineup average of 1,185. Jesuit could post 1,120 with Dutchtown at 1,060. Rummel could be a factor with its 1,161. It makes the upper part of the lineup so important for the Baton Rouge teams.
Brother Martin coach Bruce Himbert put everything in perspective for these matches. “Like I always say spares will make the difference, along with the 1-3 bowlers helping the 4-6 by winning their points and knocking down as many pins they can. We have won 13 matches because we have bowled as a team, but again we don’t know too much about the other teams. We need to just take care of our business and let everything else fall in place.”
The Central girls’ team averages 100 pins a game more than last year (935) and has had several 1,000-plus games. St. Scholastica (934) averages about the same and are the favorites to hold seeds in their matches.
There is a $5 admission charge to enter All-Star Lanes for today’s biregional action. We’ll have a complete recap in Wednesday’s paper. Until then, good luck and good bowling.