Spain Park girls fall in semifinals of state bowling tourney

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

PELHAM – Each year, the Spain Park girls bowling team is among the best in the state, but the Jaguars have never advanced past the quarterfinals, making it that far three times in the last five years.

On Friday, Jan. 29, that changed inside Oak Mountain Lanes at the 2021 AHSAA Girls Bowling State Championship.

The Jaguars again found themselves in the quarterfinals to kick off the tournament with COVID-19 forcing one less round at this year’s state tournament.

Taking on Gulf Shores High School, the Jaguars were hoping to make that historic jump into the semifinals.

Spain Par got off to a fast start in the traditional game and was able to grab the early advantage behind a score of 706-656.

From there, the Jaguars used a consistent effort for the entirety of the match, scoring 164, 160 and 160 in the three baker games.

In the first baker game, the Jags were able to extend their lead to 80 points with a 164-134 win to grab a 870-790 lead.

To have a chance, Gulf Shores needed a big second baker game, and while the Dolphins put together their best of the matchup, their score of 147 still wasn’t enough to match Spain Park’s total of 160, giving the Jags a 106-point lead going to the final baker game.

Gulf Shores lost its confidence at that point, knowing it the uphill battle was too much, as Spain Park outscored them 160-110 in the final baker game to win the matchup by a combined 1,190-1,047.

That put the Jaguars into the semifinals for the first time in school history.

Waiting for them, however, was one of the state’s best teams in Sparkman.

The Senators flashed their ability in the traditional game, bowling one of the best traditional games of the tournament against the Jags with a score of 865.

Spain Park couldn’t match that total and posted 681, putting them 184 pins down right out of the gate.

But the Jaguars still had some fight left in them.

They bounced back in the first baker game with the same consistency they showed in the quarterfinal round, posting a score of 161.

The problem, however, became the deficit. Sparkman wasn’t too far behind the Jags, posting a score of 151, which helped the Senators maintain a strong 1,016-842 lead.

Spain Park never could rebound from there, as the battle back became too much.

The Jaguars scored 132 and 130 in the final two baker games, while Sparkman posted scores of 140 and 151 to close out the 1,307-1,104 win.

But for Spain Park, this year’s team not only made it to the semifinals, it went head-to-head with the eventual state champion and won a baker game against them.

The Senators went on to take down Thompson 1,429-1,292 in the finals to claim the title.

This year’s Spain Park team took the next step in a chase for a title, and has laid the groundwork for what can be accomplished in the years to come.