The O’Fallon High girls bowling team fell short of the team championship in the IHSA regional tournament Saturday, Feb. 4 but found solace in the fact that their combined efforts were good enough to qualify for this week’s sectional showdown in Belleville.
The OTHS young guns, a squad composed of all freshmen and sophomores, started tournament play at Cahokia slowly but warmed to the task as the competition advanced. Their final 1,000-plus game brought them to within 50 pins of champion Belleville East — close but not close enough to overtake the Lancers.
“Our girls have stepped up in every tournament this year,” said O’Fallon coach Garrett Spencer. “Despite their relative youth, they haven’t buckled under pressure situations, and the regional tournament was no exception. We left a few open frames early but buckled down when we needed to. Our success in regular season tournaments helped us overcome some early adversity. Our ultimate goal was to qualify for sectional tournament play, and our girls accomplished that goal.”
Freshman Mary Orf led the Lady Panthers’ sectional bid with a total pin count of 1,307, which placed her third overall in the individual scoring. Sophomore Maddi Thornton and freshman Natalie Hletne also cracked the 1,000-pin plateau. Thornton finished the tourney with 1,233, and Heltne racked up 1,004 pins. Hayleigh Williams (954), Lauren Tomaszewski (819) and Grace Braswell (795) added to the OTHS team total.
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On Saturday, Feb. 11, post-season bowling action will get underway at the Belleville East sectional at Bel-Air Bowl in Belleville with the host Lancers, the Lady Panthers, Belleville West and Cahokia High School. The schools will vying for the chance to qualify for the IHSA state finals, which is slated for the following weekend in Rockford at the Cherry Bowl.