By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The MHSAA Class II North state boys bowling championship was decided Thursday on lane 10 at Tupelo’s Rebelanes.
Using a NASCAR analogy, Rebelanes owner Kevin Hartigan, said the lane was the best track. Olive Branch, a 3-2 winner against two-time defending state champion Tupelo, was the beneficiary.
The Baker-style, bext-of-five championship match was bowled on lanes 9 and 10.
“Lane 10 was just the better scoring lane today,” Hartigan said when it was over. “Olive Branch won all three of its games on 10 and Tupelo won its two games on 10.”
Hartigan knew after watching warmups that 10 was the better lane. However, Olive Branch, which edged Tupelo by 51 pins in the qualifying matches – 3,963 to 3,912 – selected lane 10 to start the championship series.
“We could oil that lane again today, run the machine over it and it might not happen again,” he said. “That’s where science comes in.
“It’s like in NASCAR, the drivers look for the high groove and low groove to see which is faster.”
Both teams qualified for the Class II state tournament scheduled for Feb. 27 in Jackson, where they will compete against two teams each from the Central and South regions.
“I told the boys they’ve got a goal now; the next one is the one that counts,” said Golden Wave coach Susan Dudley, whose team is now 15-1-1 overall. “We bowled well today, we just left too many spares out there.”
For Tupelo, Cullen McBride rolled an 870 and Tim Hartigan an 863 for the top two series in Class II. Lane Posey’s 242 in the first game was the Wave’s top individual effort.
“We were in this same spot two years ago and won state,” Tim Hartigan said, referring to Tupelo’s runner-up finish in 2008 North finals. “This just makes us hungry to win state.
Lady Wave wins
Tupelo’s Lady Wave, bowling with five first-year bowlers, defeated Itawamba AHS 3-1 for the North crown.
Tupelo finished a close second, 13 pins, to IAHS in the qualifying – 3,090 to 3,077.
“Before the season, I wouldn’t have given us a chance. Now, I think we have a chance to win state,” Dudley said. “The girls did well. I’m proud of them.”
Morgan Pannell’s 643 was Tupelo’s high series while Madison Stafford’s 206 was a career-high and team-high for the Wave.
Amanda Pannell, a senior, admitted she was a little apprehensive about her team’s chances to compete for a state championship.
“We had so many young players who had never bowled. My sister (Morgan) had never taken it serious,” she said. “We won today because of hard work and dedication.”
East Webster defeated West Union 3-2 to win the Class I boys championship while West Union took a 3-0 win against East Union for the girls Class I crown.
All four teams qualified for the Class I state tournament Feb. 27 at Rebelanes.