All good things must come to an end. For the O’Fallon High boys’ bowling team, the end came last Wednesday afternoon when the Alton Redbirds ended the Panthers’ undefeated string of 26 consecutive Southwestern Conference victories, 3286-3199. The O’Fallon keglers did not go down without a fight as they averaged 213 in the 3-game series, but it was not enough.
“Alton’s home field advantage paid off,” said veteran OTHS coach Mike Imes. “We need to continue to work on making lane adjustments earlier, so we don’t play catch up in second and third games.”
That was the situation that O’Fallon experienced on the Bowl Haven lanes. Despite three of the five Panther bowlers scoring 234 or higher in game one, the Redbirds rolled to nearly a 100-pin lead and added an extra 80 pins to their cushion by the end of the second game. The OTHS squad attempted a third game rally, but the effort fell short. Matthew Toohey and Andrew Orf led the OTHS effort with 695 and 682 series. Despite the loss, the Panthers were able to hold onto first place in the league standings due to Belleville West’s victory over Belleville East on the same afternoon.
Two SWC matches preceded the Alton donnybrook, and the OTHS boys had little difficulty in pouncing on Edwardsville and Granite City to improve to 5-0 in league play. The Panthers started strong against Edwardsville with four of their top five bowlers firing 200-plus games. Andrew Orf was O’Fallon’s top scorer, carding a 704.
Matthew Toohey was the lead bowler when O’Fallon hosted the Granite City Warriors at St. Clair Bowl to start the week. Toohey rolled games of 227, 225 and 220 to finish with a 672 series. Orf and Eli Rosenberg were not far behind Toohey’s pin count, giving the Panthers an easy 3165-2519 victory.
Girls improve to 4-0
Victories came in bunches for the O’Fallon girls’ team during the week. The Lady Panthers downed Granite City, Edwardsville and Alton to move to 4-0 in SWC action. The OTHS girls began the week by drubbing Granite City 2762 to 1986. Hayleigh Williams led the O’Fallon assault with a 587 series, including an individual game high 225. Natalie Heltne was only seven pins off Williams’ pace. Mary Orf (574) and Maddi Thornton (552) contributed additional punch to the OTHS attack.
The O’Fallon girls continued their hot streak with a 900-plus pin demolition of Edwardsville. Lauren Tomaszewski’s high game of 246 helped her win the best series competition. Tomaszewski finished with 664 series. The Lady Panthers pummeled Edwardsville from the very start, building a 200-pin advantage in game one. Hayleigh Williams helped O’Fallon get off on the right foot with a first game total of 230.
The Lady Panthers saved their best effort for the third match of the week. While the OTHS boys were struggling to maintain their conference winning streak, the local girls blasted their way to their best score of the year, finishing with 3159 total pins. The O’Fallon girls’ final pin count was the fourth highest girls’ score ever recorded in SWC history. Freshman Mary Orf, already making a name for herself in area bowling circles, fueled the O’Fallon record-setting effort by finishing the day with a 747 series, which ranks as the fourth best individual score ever recorded by a SWC female bowler. Orf fired games of 241, 288 and 218 to achieve the milestone. Three of Orf’s teammates eclipsed the 600-pin mark — Natalie Heltne (661), Hayleigh Williams (656) and Lauren Tomaszewski (600).
“Obviously, it was a great day for our girls,” said Panther coach Garrett Spencer. “Our bowlers, despite the relative youth, have been relentless in attacking the lanes to this point in our season.”
Both O’Fallon teams will wrap up the first half of their conference season this week when they face Belleville East and Granite City.