Had it not been for the heroics of Lockport freshman Bailey Delrose, the Collinsville Kahoks would be looking to defend their IHSA Girls State Bowling Tournament championship this weekend at Cherry Bowl in Rockford.
Instead, the Kahoks are looking for their first state title since 2010.
It was Delrose, whose 300 game and 702 series in the opening three-game block of the second day sparked a memorable Porters comeback as they rallied from fourth place to overcome the Kahoks, who settled for the second-place trophy.
Collinsville coach Sean Hay remembers the situation well.
“They (Lockport) bowled 3,340 and 3,215 the second day. We bowled 3,150, and 3, 120 and averaged 1,050 (per game) for the tournament. We didn’t lose it. They (Lockport) won it,” Hay said. “They had not only had a 300 game, but they also had a 289 and a couple games in the 260’s that weekend.
“I was proud of my team. We bowled very consistent and very strong all weekend. Sometimes you do that and the other team is just better. It happens.”
A frequent visitor to Cherry Bowl this time of year, the Kahoks will once again be one of the teams to beat along with O’Fallon and Lockport when the 2016 Girls State Bowling Tournament begins at 9:45 a.m. on Friday. A total of 24 teams and 30 individuals will bowl the first two rounds with the top 12 teams and top 30 individuals not on those teams advancing to the final two rounds on Saturday.
Most of Collinsville’s squad will be making its third trip to the state finals. Led by juniors Madisyn Juenger, Katelynn Wirtel and Zoe Howell along with senior Bella Thompson, the Kahoks fought off tough lane conditions at Southern Illinois Bowl in Carterville last week to place second at the Johnston City Sectional.
O’Fallon, led by senior Madison Kasza, placed third in the sectional.
Hay feels the fact that his team has been at Cherry Bowl and knows the lanes well, will help it in its quest to win a state championship.
“The girls have been here before. They know the shot and how the lanes break down and what corrections need to be made when the lanes break down on Saturday,” Hay said. “It’s just a matter of executing. We just have to hit the pocket, stay clean and pick the spares.
“If we can average 1,050 like we did a year ago, I’ll take my chances. The first goal is to make it through the first day.”
While Collinsville will rely on underclassmen once again, O’Fallon, with the exception of Kasza, is even younger. One of the top bowlers in southern Illinois, Kasza and fellow senior Lanie Goldberg will have to show the way for three young freshmen and a sophomore.
Individually, the metro-east area will be led by two bowlers who could contend for top 10 or better finishes. Sectional champion Courtney Argus from Dupo averaged better then 220 a week ago in winning the Johnson City Sectional while Belleville East senior Katey Sauerwein is also a bowler capable of putting up big numbers.