By Jeff Eubanks/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The East Union Urchins won their third title in four years in the MHSAA Class I boys bowling championship on Saturday at Tupelo’s Rebelanes.
All championships are special, but this one had a little extra feeling to it.
East Union climbed back from a 3-1 deficit in the Baker-style, best-of-seven championship match, to claim a 4-3 victory over the East Webster Wolverines, a team that won the Class I regional tournament on February 11.
The Urchins trailed 172-166 going into their last throw of the final match, before a third strikeout by Urchins’ senior Stephen Dawe sealed a 176-172 victory.
“We had to have a strikeout from Stephen and we got it. Nothing else would have won,” Urchins’ coach Brian Browning said. “He had strikes in all three of his opportunities and that is what won it.”
Browning said that before his team went on the 3-0 run to close the game he talked with his team about getting back to the fundamentals and just having fun.
“We talked about it a little bit, we pointed out that East Webster wasn’t perfect either. They were leaving some open frames, and that we had a chance if we would just bowl like we knew how to bowl. Get back in the game and it started snowballing.
“I told them to have fun and you saw that they got their energy level up a little bit, got cranked up and that is when they start throwing strikes, start closing frames.”
Dawe and fellow senior Matthew Bagwell paced the Urchins, who finished as a team with a 3,607 overall score in the qualifying matches, on the day. Dawe bowled a series-best 813, while Bagwell turned in a career-high 247 game.
The Urchins finished the regular season 9-2, and placed third in the regional tourney, earning a wild-card entry into the championship matches. Browning said that his team did not change much over the last two weeks, except their lineup.
“For the Baker system, we shuffled the lineup a little bit. We decided to go with whoever was hot farther down in the lineup, because the closing frames, those last frames, those are the most important ones. When you have a guy like Stephen Dawe who steps up their and strikesout in that 10th frame, and we win by four pins.”
East Webster totaled a 3,513 in the qualifying matches and were led by Trey Allen with a series-high of 829, and a game-high of 227.
The Pisgah Lady Dragons won their second consecutive Class I bowling championship by knocking off the West Union Lady Eagles. The Lady Eagles outscored the Lady Dragons by 16 pins – 2926 to 2910 – in the qualifying matches, but were unable to pick up a victory in the championship match, losing 4-0.