Photo: Etowah High’s Kynzlon Gibbs (left) and Mallorie Humphrey display their all-state plaques following the Lady Blue Devils’ loss in the semifinals of the Class 1A/5A girls’ state bowling tournament on January 28 at Oak Mountain Lanes in Pelham. (Submitted photo)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Etowah High girls bowling team raised some eyebrows last week in Pelham.
The Lady Blue Devils fell just short in the semifinals of the Class 1A/5A girls’ state bowling tournament on January 28 at Oak Mountain Lanes.
Etowah defeated Etowah Houston Academy, 1,186 to 1,075, in the quarterfinal round before falling to eventual state champion Satsuma, 1,174 to 1,233, in the semifinals.
Etowah senior Kynzlon Gibbs posted the best individual game of the tournament with a 197 effort in the quarterfinals. Anna Jones finished second in the semifinal traditional round with a 179 score, followed by Gibbs at 177.
In the quarterfinals, the Lady Blue Devils came in second in Baker Game at 1,186 and third in the traditional round at 731. In the semifinals, Etowah came in second in both the Baker Game (1,174) and the traditional round (735). The Lady Blue Devils also won Game 1 of the Baker Single Game with a 155 score.
Etowah head coach Shawanna Roper noted that her team’s score in the semifinals was the highest of any other team in the tournament except for the Lady Gators.
“Overall, I thought we did really well,” she said. “We ended up against the No. 1 team on our side of the bracket and only lost by 59 pins. So me and [assistant] coach [Raheem] Gibbs were really proud of our girls. Coming out of regionals, we wanted to make sure we knew the importance of picking up our spares and not throwing gutter balls after those spares. We improved about 350 pins from regionals, so we were very impressed with our girls’ performance. We told our girls [after the semifinal loss] not to hang their heads, because we went in there and showed out.”
Gibbs, Anna Jones, Elli Jones and Mallorie Humphrey made the all-state team.
Other than Gibbs, four juniors, four freshman, four eight graders and one seventh grader comprised the 2020-21 roster.
“Two of our starters were just in their second year, and the other two were in their first year,” said Roper. “We had nine seniors last year and didn’t even make it to regionals. We went from that to just Kinz helping and motivating everyone. The younger girls worked together and pulled their load, because they really wanted to do this for Kinz.”
Gibbs, Anna Jones and Elli Jones are also members of the school’s varsity basketball team. Roper acknowledged how well she and the other coaches worked together so the girls could participate in both sports with little to no overlap in terms on practices and games. Other team members play for the school’s softball team and are members of the cheerleading squad.
“After the girls leave those practices, they’ll connect with us and practice bowling. One time after they played in an area [basketball] game, the girls went to the bowling alley themselves and sent us their practice scores. It was a challenge, but they did it.”
A 2012 Etowah High graduate and an All-Region football player for the Blue Devils, Raheem Gibbs is a standout bowler in his own right.
“Coach Gibbs bowls around 250 to 300, so he is phenomenal about showing the kids how to do things,” said Roper. “If I didn’t have him as a true coach, we definitely wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did.”