O'FALLON — Minooka High School bowling coach Derrick Rapsky called it "damage control."
Breezing along with a 63-pin lead at the boys state bowling tournament on Friday, the Indians struggled to a final game of 962, but still maintained a slim lead over three teams --two of them from the metro-east in O'Fallon and Belleville East -- after two rounds of competition at St. Clair Bowl.
"The lane conditions changed late in the day and we didn't adjust as well as we needed,'' Rapsky said. "We left a lot of pins out there, but it could have been worse. I thought we did a good job of limiting the damage.''
A member of the Southwest Prairie Conference, Minooka finished with a total of 6,488 pins to lead a group of four teams, which are separated by just 71 pins through 30 games.
O'Fallon, first after the morning session, also struggled in the afternoon and is alone in second with a 6,438 pins.
Lockport, getting series of 716 and 782 from individual leader Shane Matejcek, is third at 6,422. East is fourth at 6,417.
The Lancers were led by junior Thomas Peters and senior Kolton Hess. Peters is sixth individually after finishing six games with a 1,399 total. Hess is in seventh with 1,396 pins.
Four former state team champions Salem (6,323), Rockford Guilford (6,300) and (Tinley Park) Andrew (6,267) and Freeport (6,245) hold down the fifth through seventh spots. Oak Lawn (6,239), (Biggsville) West Central (6,222), Centralia (6,218) and (Roselle) Lake Park (6,060) round out the 12 teams which advanced into Saturday's competition
Round three begins at 9:30 a.m., with the fourth round set for 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door.
While the fight for the team title will probably go down to the wire, Matejcek seems to have the lanes figured out owning a 37-pin lead over O'Fallon junior Billy Goodman.
Averaging a whopping 249.7 for his six games, the Porters standout finished strong, rolling games of 247, 286 and 249 in the afternoon for a 782 series.
Goodman, an all-state bowler a year ago, also finished strong. After a 202 game to open his afternoon session, he had games of 269 and 267 to finish the day with an average of 243.5.
"After he struggled a little bit at the sectional, I had a feeling Billy would come out and bowl well today. He did that,'' O'Fallon coach Mike Imes said. "Overall, we're in good shape. We just need to come out and bowl like we can on Saturday and we'll be just fine.
The Panthers, who placed fourth after leading coming out of the opening day of the 2012 finals, got respectable efforts from Tommy Frost (1,315) and Daman McIntire (1,291) on Friday.
"When the lanes changed, we didn't make the proper adjustments and we didn't do it as fast as we should have,'' Imes said. "With four teams separated by 71 pins, it's going to be a real dogfight tomorrow (Saturday). If we bowl like we can, I like our chances.''
Also liking his team's chances is East coach Marcus Barriger.
One of the state's hottest teams heading into the tournament, East maintained its momentum, thanks to the performances of Peters and Hess.
"We wanted to give ourselves a chance, but in order to do that you've got to advance into the second day. We did that and we're in a good spot,'' Barriger said. "The key once again was our consistency. The team bowled very well today.''
Granite City failed to advance into the final two rounds, placing 15th with a score of 5,823.
Several local individuals also will compete today. Alton senior Cody Netzhammer is in fourth place after averaging 236.7 and has a total of 1,420 pins.
Columbia's Cameron Touchette is 12th with 1,348. Highland's Spencer Mueller is 14th with a 1,331 total.
Other local bowlers moving on were, Granite City's Eric Mann (44th/1,277), Collinsville's Matthew Flanagan (46th/1,273), Granite City's Nathan Lijewski (48th/1,266) and Mascoutah's Anthony Betcher (52nd/1,258).