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Bowling for state
The three top Olympic League girls bowling squads, Klahowya Secondary School, Bremerton and Olympic high schools, will fight for their playoff lives Saturday at the West Central District tournament, where state berths are on the line.
Bremerton head coach Dean Wagner said this week his team is deeper than ever with seven bowlers competing this postseason. The Knights, who won the league tournament last week at All-Star Lanes, are normally made up of three to four athletes and a few alternates to fill the roster.
This year presents a different scenario for Wagner as he rotates seven starting bowlers between games. Allie Taylor, Brittany Schroeder, Merissa Duzenski, Shannara Hankinson, Rebecca Gardner, Helaina Hilligoss and Abby King will bowl for the Knights Saturday.
“The tournaments are getting longer, now I can rely on the seven girls instead of worrying about three carrying the entire team all the time,” he said. “When I have girls who needed to be subbed, someone else came up to the plate so it’s great to have that camaraderie right now.”
King won the individual crown at the league tournament by bowling a 242 in the first game and 614 for the series, both tournament bests. The freshman didn’t dwell on her own achievements at this week’s practices, but instead praised the effort of her teammates.
“We came together as a team and put everything from the season behind us,” she said. “The tournament showed us what we were up against, and how much we needed to step it up.”
The Knights won the state title in 2008, but finished this season in third place with a 6-5 record. When the postseason started, it was a clean slate.
“If they beat us, they beat us, but if other teams don’t and we win, that’s great for us,” Wagner said. “We don’t pay attention to what the other teams are doing, we’re focused on ourselves and doing the best we can do.”
Meanwhile, Klahowya won the regular season title with a 10-2 mark and finished second at the league tournament. The Eagles’ focus in practice this week centered on baker games and avoiding fatigue in their third month of competition, head coach Loree Hippe said.
She expects to see her team, along with Bremerton and Olympic, at the state tournament Feb. 4 at Narrows Plaza in Tacoma. Carys Bailey, Miranda Bailey, Megan Shultz, Jacqui Hornbeck, Riki Wheaton, Kawai Pakele and Courtney Snellenberg will represent the Eagles at districts.
“It’s been such a long season, so we’re trying to keep these kids from getting burned out right now,” she added. “Districts are going to be very competitive because we have some good teams here.”
Olympic head coach Dave Colby led the Lady Trojans (10-2 this season) to second-place finishes at state in each of the last two seasons. He said the playoffs represent a thrilling time in the season, and he doesn’t intend to change his approach as the pressure mounts. The team’s roster consists of Audrey Deutsch, Emily Sutton, Kendra Willis, Kat Singasang and Shanice Jones.
“This is where it all comes down to who can outclass the other teams,” he said. “This is the fun time of the year, but nothing changes from coaching. I want to stay consistent all the way through and not mess up the girls.”
The road to Tacoma
Central Kitsap High School (5-9) also qualified for the West Central District tournament last week by placing third at the Narrows League tournament at All Star Lanes.
The Cougars’ total score of 2,878 trailed first-place Shelton High School (2,991) and Mount Tahoma High School (2,914) in the Class 4A division.
The top five 4A teams from districts will advance to state, while the top 10 individuals not on one of those five schools will also move on to Tacoma next week.
The 3A division will send its top four finishers and the top eight bowlers not included in those four teams will compete for a title in Tacoma.