Photo: Southside High’s Cora Lee Clontz competes during the AHSAA Class 6A/7A girls state bowling tournament last Friday (January 28) at The Alley at the Gadsden Mall. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
If not for an occasional missed spare, the Southside High girls bowling team might well have been playing for a fifth state championship last Friday (Jan. 28).
The Lady Panthers lost to eventual state champion Sparkman by only 34 pins in the Class 6A/7A state tournament semifinals at The Alley at the Gadsden Mall. Southside defeated Thompson, 4-1, in the quarterfinals before matching up against the Lady Senators.
“[Sparkman] tried to give it to us, but we left a little too much out there,” said head coach Zack Blume. “We had no business going toe-to-toe with the state champs, but we did. Quite honestly, we should be competing in a Game 6 right now with a 3-2 lead. But we’ll learn from this and get back to work soon enough. We’re a very young team, so tying for third in the state surpassed all the expectations we had for this year.”
Blume pointed out that all members of Southside’s 2017-2020 state championship teams are no longer on the roster. He started three eight graders this season.
“We’ve had so much of a team forever, and that team is gone,” he said. “This is a brand-new team. They’ve done such a great job, and I’m super-proud of how hard they worked all year long. They’ve got a bright future and are going to be a force next year.”
In the traditional round play for seeding on January 27, Southside placed fourth with a combined three-game point total of 2,168. Keilsey Hull was the Lady Panthers’ lone medalist with a combined score of 499.
Blume appreciated The Alley’s work in hosting the state tournament.
“I could not have asked for anything more. The Alley has done such a fantastic job of putting this on, and so many people have worked really hard to make it happen. This place is such a great venue for anything, but especially for a state bowling tournament. This place truly separates good bowlers from great ones. Whoever wins the finals will be a true state champion.”