Jags, Panthers and Warriors compete in girls state bowling tournament
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
PELHAM – Shelby County has produced some of the best bowling teams in the state since it was initiated as an official AHSAA sport last year, and this year was no different as three girls teams from the county were part of the Sweet 16 during the final day of the state bowling tournament.
Pelham, Spain Park and Thompson all came into Friday, Jan. 27, with one goal in mind, winning a state championship. Unfortunately for each of those teams and the county, none of them were able to bring home the trophy, but the day didn’t go without some fun.
All three were considered favorites to win it all coming into the day with Thompson gathering the No. 1 overall seed after the seeding tournament taking place the day before. The Warriors bowled a 2,396 to take the top seed.
The Jags had been one of the top teams across the state all year, but only bowled a 2,046 on day one, which was good enough for the eighth seed. Pelham like the other two has been one of the best teams all season, but struggled on day one bowling a 1,882 to take the No. 14 seed of 16 teams.
Pelham’s struggles continued into day two as the Panthers couldn’t get any momentum. A game of 90 in the first of five cost them as they fell to the three seed Etowah Blue Devils 750-640.
Spain Park and Thompson on the other hand took care of business in the first round. The Warriors dominated in their opening match, winning 734-493 over Lamar County, while the Jags won a tighter contest 712-607 over The Capitol School.
The main problem with Spain Park’s struggles on day one was that it set up a matchup with Thompson in the second round, meaning one of the two best teams in the tournament would be knocked out in the quarterfinals.
Back on Jan. 10, the Jags lost to Vestavia Hills in one of the more amazing bowling outcomes you could possibly see falling by one pin, 981-980 in a loss.
There was no way that could happen again against Thompson, right? Wrong! Spain Park was on the losing end of another one-point match as they fell to the Warriors 712-711 to end their run at a state title.
The match went back and forth the entire way as Thompson started off hot and the two alternated games. After a strong fourth game where Spain Park bowled a 161, while the Warriors only scored 112, the Jags had taken a 602-564 and looked to be on their way to the semifinals.
Unfortunately for Spain Park, they had their lowest output of the tournament in the final game as they only put 109 points on the board. Thompson still had to score 148 or more to win the match, which they had done in five of their previous nine games on the day. The Warriors hit that number right on the nose to win by that lone pin, leaving the Jags heartbroken and amazed that this could happen again.
Thompson went on to face Hartselle in the semifinals, but were only able to outscore the Tigers in one of two of the five games, the last two to be exact. Their early struggles in the semifinal match dug them in too deep of a hole to climb out of as they fell 832-731.
It was still an impressive performance by all three teams to make it as far as they did. With only three seniors on Spain Park’s roster they should be back in contention next year.
Individually for the girls, Thompson had three girls finish in the top 8 out of 84 bowlers, which won them a medal. Jessica Lynn Sherman finished in second place with a 518, only 68 pins behind first place winner Macy Fields of The Capitol School. Teammate Alexianna Griffin finished just behind Sherman in third place after bowling a 509. Katie Keener was the final Warriors player in the top 8 after bowling a total of 485 in her three games.
Spain Park’s Mary Katherine Tedder, who is one of the best athletes in the state, finished in fifth place after a three-game total of 501.