In a sport where precision and the ability to make adjustments are key, the Belleville East Lancers simply made all the right moves while winning the Mascoutah Sectional a week ago at Bel-Air Bowl in Belleville.
Led by the performance of senior Thomas Peters and getting solid contributions from senior Sean Hoyt and sophomore Justin Hess, the Lancers finally chased down state power O'Fallon and 10 other teams to capture the sectional title and earn a trip to the IHSA boys state bowling tournament.
"Thomas (Peters) did what he's done for the last few years as a member of this bowling program. He stepped up and bowled great," East coach Marcus Barriger said. "But the thing I'm most proud of is that when the lanes changed in the afternoon and we faced a little adversity, the kids responded,''
"We've got five seniors who bowled at the sectional. They knew what they had to do and they went out and executed the shots. I'm very proud of this team."
Next up for the Lancers is a short trip to Fairview Heights, where they will compete with four other Southwestern Conference schools and 19 other teams at the state tournament, which begins Friday at St. Clair Bowl.
Other local teams in the field are Belleville West, Alton, Collinsville and O'Fallon. Local individuals competing are Spencer Jerome and Cameron Touchette, both of Columbia and Zack Miller of Mascoutah.
West coach Brett Hinnen returns to the same St. Clair Bowl lanes where he helped lead Edwardsville to a state title a decade ago this week.
And after a somewhat inconsistent regular season, the Maroons picked the perfect day to be mighty as they grabbed the fifth of six state tournament bids at Bel-Air Bowl last week.
Hinnen was a member of the 2004 Edwardsville state title squad.
"We came out and bowled like we were capable of bowling,'' Hinnen said. "We're excited to have the opportunity to represent our school at the state finals.
"The first goal is to be bowling on Saturday.''
Home lanes advantage
After dominating the Southwestern Conference with a perfect regular season, the O'Fallon Panthers struggled a bit in regional and sectional competition the past two weeks.
O'Fallon won the Cahokia Regional, but placed fourth at the Mascoutah Sectional.
Second in the state a year ago, O'Fallon once again has the advantage of bowling for the state title on its home lanes at St. Clair Bowl.
But how much of an advantage is it?
"I think there is a certain comfort level bowling on your home lanes. It's a place where we've bowled and bowled well all year,'' O'Fallon coach Mike Imes said. "The one thing is that the pattern we'll see at the state tournament is one that we haven't seen all year The team that has the ability to make adjustments is one that will probably do very well.
"The majority of our kids were here last year. They know what's at stake and now they need to go out and execute the shots.''
Tickets will be on sale at the gate and are priced at $10 per day. The doors open at 8:45 a.m. on Friday and Saturday with competition set to begin at 9:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days.
Odds and ends
The defending state champion Lockport Porters will attempt to become just the second team to repeat this weekend at St. Clair Bowl. (Tinley Park) Andrew won state titles in both 2005 and 2006. Other former champions in the field are Andrew, (Roselle) Lake Park (2009) and (Rockford) Guilford (2011)