Several local high school teams competed in the Alabama High School Athletic Association state bowling tournament on Jan. 28 and 29 at Oak Mountain Lanes in Pelham.
The Etowah girls went the farthest out of five area squads, as the Lady Blue Devils lost in the semifinal round on Jan. 29 to James Clemens by a score of 1,471 to 1,127.
“In the end, it was just a long day and we let some things get the better of us and kind of had a mental breakdown,” said EHS co-coach Kevin Horton. “You’ve only got so much energy, both physically and mentally.”
Etowah reached the final four round by defeating Southside, 1500 to 1,488 in the quarterfinals and Satsuma, 1,364 to 1,152, in the opening round of elimination play.
Horton was proud of how the Lady Blue Devils edged county rival Southside after losing tot the Lady Panthers in the regional tournament.
“Twelve pins, so it was a really close game. But anytime you put Etowah and Southside together, the atmosphere will be intense, no matter what sport it is. But what I especially liked was the sportsmanship after the game. It was just two competitors going toe to toe with nothing but respect at the end of the day.”
Etowah earned the top girls seed in the 16-team elimination round with a 2,244 team total in three traditional games on Jan. 28. Freshman T.K. Gibbs turned in the fourth best individual series with a 497 score, followed by freshman Shy Gibbs with 460 and sophomore Lexi Gibbs with 483. Lexi Gibbs and Shy Gibbs each bowled a 210 high game.
“I thought the girls did really well until the last game, where we kind of fell apart,” said EHS co-coach Raheem Gibbs, a 2012 Etowah High graduate. “[James Clemens] had a pretty big lead form the start, and it was hard to overcome that. But we had a great season and we have a lot of kids coming back on both the girls and boys teams.”
The Southside and Gadsden City girls finished eighth and ninth on Jan. 28 with 1,978 and 1,885 points, respectively. In Friday’s elimination round, the Lady Panthers ended the Lady Titans’ season with a 1,358 to 1,082 victory.
In boys elimination round action on Jan. 29, Etowah defeated Baker, 1829-1,63, before losing to Huntsville, 1,754 -1,614. Austin Gibbs’s 267 score was the high score in the traditional games.
“We did well in the first round, but then we went up against a team (Huntsville) last closed out frames, and we didn’t,” said Horton. “It was just a matter of execution.”
Gadsden City fell to Huntsville, 1,628 to 1,597, in the opening game of Friday’s elimination round.
In Thursday’s pool play, the Blue Devils finished fifth with 2,612 total points. Austin Gibbs was third in individual scoring with 669 points.
Helped by Jonathan Kilgo’s perfect game of 300, the Titans’ 2,406-point showing on Thursday good for the 13th seed heading into Friday.
“I wish we could have done better as a team, but we will be back,” said GCHS head coach Renza Avery. “But it’s amazing how much excitement is here in this place. This state tournament gives the students a chance to do something. This [tournament] is one of the best decisions the AHSAA has made.”
The Spain Park boys and Sparkman girls wound up winning the state championships.
“This is the first year we had a team, so we didn’t know what to expect,” said Horton. “But we knew that we had two pretty good squads that were competitive and loved to bowl. It made for a fun year, and the support we’ve gotten from the school and the community has been phenomenal.”