Boyle County girls win first bowling title
Jed Roth was dancing, and the Boyle County girls were beaming.
They had learned what it feels like to come close and win, and now they were experiencing what it feels like to make it to the top for the first time.
Boyle won its first girls regional bowling championship Saturday, winning the team championship at the 8th Region Tournament for the biggest victory in what has become the most successful season in the team’s six-year history.
“This season, we’ve had a lot of high-place finishes, a lot of firsts and seconds, and we knew that this was our time,” Boyle senior Trista Lee said. “If we were going to do it, it was prime time.”
When it was done and the trophy was in hand, it was time for Roth, the Boyle coach, to dance as he had promised the girls he would. But he was quick to say that this was their moment, not his.
“It’s awesome, more for the girls than it is for me,” Roth said. “They work so hard. Since October 1st they’re in here twice a week (for practice), and they come in on their own another two or three days. We were so close last year … and for them to actually come back and get it this year is just amazing.”
That’s exactly what some of the bowlers who have been part of the team since middle school said.
“We’ve been working our butts off for years to get to this point, and we finally made it,” sophomore Savannah Tillett said.
“Oh, my gosh, it’s amazing,” junior Emily Readnour added. “For me and Savannah, it’s been five or six years of our dream to just even make it to the finals and make it to state.”
The first-place trophy they won at Danville Bowlarama is the latest piece of hardware in a growing collection for the Boyle bowling program. The boys team had won four consecutive regional titles – a streak that ended Saturday with a second-place finish – and the 2017 state championship, but this was the first postseason team trophy for the girls.
“We really wanted to show the boys that we can get there, too, because they’ve had so many successes,” Tillett said. “We just kind of wanted to be there with them.”
The Boyle girls can look forward to their first trip to the state team tournament Feb. 8 in Louisville. The Boyle boys will also be there for the fifth consecutive year after finishing as runner-up in their team competition.
The girls got close enough to smell a trip to the state tournament last year when they reached the regional semifinals for the second straight year, only to lose a close match to eventual champion Corbin.
Roth said a team that returned every bowling from last season was motivated by that near-miss.
“I think it was just drive. They remembered how it felt to lose last year … and they didn’t want it to happen again,” he said. “The day after they lost, they were back in here working to get ready for this year.”
Boyle was seeded third out of 12 teams after the qualifying round, and the Rebels exacted revenge on No. 6 seed Corbin with a three-games-to-one victory in their first best-of-5 match in the elimination bracket that included an 82-pin win in the decisive game.
“Qualifying was rough, and I think nerves got a hold of us, but they calmed down in that little bye break we got (in the first round) and they bowled probably the best they’ve bowled all year as a group,” Roth said.
In the semifinals, Boyle defeated No. 2 seed Garrard County, which had its highest finish ever in the team competition, in three games to advance to the finals and secure their state berth.
The Rebels then swept top-seeded Fleming County in the finals, winning the three games by an average of 17 pins.
The bowlers said they worked throughout the offseason on single pins and picking up spares, and it paid off Saturday.
“We know that we’re not really a strike-making team, but we can make spares, and that’s what did it for us. We did what we’re comfortable with and (made the shots) that we know we can make,” Lee said.
“When somebody missed a shot, somebody came back and picked them up immediately,” Roth added. “We didn’t have a string of bad shots; we had good shot after good shot. Consistency was huge.”
In the boys competition, Boyle dominated the field in qualifying but found itself in a fight in all three of its elimination matches. The Rebels fell to No. 2 seed West Jessamine in five games in the finals, losing the fifth by 57 pins.
“We haven’t had a lot of adversity throughout the year. We’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things, and we’ve had a ton of success, but we kind of hard a target on our back,” Boyle coach Zach Cooley said. “We’ve bowled West several times, and they’ve got a great team. I think we’d seen them in various tournaments six or seven times, and they might have beaten us once. But they’ve got a lot of individual talent that makes a dang good team.”
The Rebels had posted an impressive qualifying score of 1,333 – an average of 222 for its six counting scores – that was a full 120 pins better than No. 2 seed West Jessamine.
“We came out on fire. That’s what I wanted my guys to do, we’ve worked for that, and it’s hard to keep up,” Cooley said. “In the end, we still controlled what we wanted to do, and we missed a lot of easy spares.”
Boyle dropped one game in the quarterfinals to No. 8 seed Johnson Central, which was overmatched in the other three games of the match. Then the Rebels were pushed to five games by No. 4 seed Montgomery County in the semifinals, winning the fifth game 214-213 only after defending individual champion Chip Carter rolled three strikes in the 10th frame and a Montgomery bowler left a single pin on his final ball in the 10th.
“That semifinal match, I think that took a lot of wind out of our sails,” Cooley said. “But the good thing about high school bowling is that the region winner and runner-up get to go to the state tournament. We’re down, but we’re not out. This is the fifth year in a row we’re in the door at the state tournament, and we’re not done. I feel like we’ve got a little bit left.”
Charlie Cole, a Lincoln County eighth-grader, had the individual highlight of the team competition when he bowled a 299 – one pin short of a perfect game – in the qualifying round. Fifth-seeded Lincoln defeated No. 12 Garrard County in the first round before falling to Montgomery in the quarterfinals.
Lincoln’s Dawson Hodge won the individual boys event on Sunday, while Boyle’s Luke Morris placed second.
8th Region Tournament
At Danville Bowlarama
Qualifying (14 teams) – 1. Boyle County 1,333; 5. Lincoln County 1,083; 12. Garrard County 822.
First round – Lincoln County (5) def. Garrard County (12) 3-0 (69-90, 226-164, 231-147).
Quarterfinals – Boyle County (1) def. Johnson Central (8) 3-1 (206-107, 184-187, 201-103, 204-145); Montgomery County (4) def. Lincoln County (5) 3-0 (179-151, 204-186, 194-170).
Semifinals – Boyle County (1) def. Montgomery County (4) 3-2 (246-183, 193-195, 186-181, 185-207, 214-213).
Championship – West Jessamine (2) def. Boyle County (1) 3-2 (195-221, 269-183, 238-169, 203-217, 228-171).
Qualifying (12 teams) – 1. Fleming County 983; 2. Garrard County 911; 3. Boyle County 902; 8. Lincoln County 735.
First round – Montgomery County (9) def. Lincoln County (8) 3-2 (148-140, 173-145, 104-120, 116-172, 147-140).
Quarterfinals – Boyle County (3) def. Corbin (6) 3-1 (189-150, 176-168, 164-168, 233-151); Garrard County (2) def. Madison Southern (10) 3-0 (174-119, 115-110, 168-78).
Semifinals – Boyle County (3) def. Garrard County (2) 3-0 (169-103, 140-124, 180-108).
Championship – Boyle County (3) def. Fleming County (1) 3-0 (161-149, 159-137, 177-161).