Belleville East boys bowling coach Marcus Barriger knows the Lancers will be one of the favorites Monday when 12 teams compete at the Belleville East Boys Regional Bowling Tournament at Bel-Air Bowl.
Barriger also knows the Lancers must be at the top of their games to advance.
“I know people think that bowling in your own house is an advantage in the regional tournament, and we’re glad we are at home, but honestly, we have probably bowled better on the road than we have here. I think we have a tendency to maybe overthink the shot here at home. On the road, we just go out and bowl,” Barriger said.
The Lancers, led by the one-two punch of Kurtis Murphy and Jake Gray, will test their skills with a trip to the Collinsville Sectional on the line, when competitive play begins at 9 a.m. Monday.
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The Belleville East Regional, one of three events involving local teams, was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was pushed back because of the ice storm and hazardous road conditions. Regionals are also being held at Salem and Alton. The top four teams and top 10 individuals not on those four teams, will advance to the Collinsville Sectional on Jan. 21. Members of advancing teams automatically qualify for individual competition.
Murphy (224 average) and Gray (214) lead the way for Belleville East, which has five bowlers averaging 201 or better.
“It’s been a great year and made even better by just an outstanding group of kids to work with,” Barriger said. “The thing I’ve found in coaching bowling is that these kids listen to everything you tell them, and they will try to implement what you want them to do. They soak up everything, and while they may struggle at times, the effort is always there. As a coach, that’s what you want to see.”
Also competing at the regional are Althoff, Belleville West, Cahokia, Columbia, Dupo, Freeburg, Gibault, Lebanon, Mascoutah and Waterloo.
At the Salem Regional
Mississippi Valley Conference champion Triad and Collinsville appear to be the two top local teams that will vie for honors at Salem Bowl.
Undefeated in league play, Triad averaged 1,041 pins per game in MVC play in winning eight-straight matches. The Knights are led by Gavin Pisetta (222), but feature four other bowlers who are averaging more than 200 pins per contest. Collinsville is paced by Clay Hartman (219).
Other local teams competing include Edwardsville, Father McGivney, Granite City, Highland, Mater Dei, Metro East Lutheran and Wesclin.
At the Alton Regional
The Jerseyville Panthers are one of six local teams that will compete at the Alton Regional, which is being held at Bowl Haven in Alton. Also competing: Alton, Civic Memorial, Marquette, Roxana and Wood River.