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Undefeated, Bremerton girls bowling team readies for the postseason
Cheering erupted as Alexus Lucas gave her co-captain, Merissa Duzenski, what appeared to be a secret handshake at All-Star Lanes in Silverdale Tuesday.
It was a high-five three times with an additional three on the back side of the hands followed by some twiddling of the fingers accompanied by sound effects after Lucas bowled a strike.
“We have secret handshakes, but they’re not really secret,” said Duzenski.
Lucas and Duzenski, both seniors, along with their teammates of Bremerton High School’s girls bowling team, always slap each other some skin after they bowl their frames regardless of how well they do.
It brings the team together and is fun, said Duzenski.
The “secret handshakes” usually occur after a spare or strike. And, it’s no secret that the Knights — undefeated in the regular season — have camaraderie and give each other support.
On Tuesday, Bremerton defeated North Mason High School 7-0 in the final match of the regular season, which began in November. Bremerton had a total pin fall score of 1,750 to North Mason’s 1,081. This made the team’s regular season outcome 12-0. They head to the Olympic League Tournament next Thursday and because they are the top performer in the league, will automatically advance to the district tournament Jan. 28. The team also has eyes on the two-day state tournament scheduled for February.
“They have really come together as a team,” said coach Dean Wagner. “Their expectations are also higher.”
Wagner is in his sixth season coaching the team and last year led the Knights to placing fourth at the state tournament. He coached the 2008 team to winning the state girls bowling title.
“This is the most potential I’ve had since then,” he said.
All seven of the varsity players are returning players to the team — most played varsity last year. Duzenski, who leads the team with the highest average, and Lucas along with sophomore Helaina Hilligoss, freshman Megan Wittenberg and sophomore Abby King make up the starting five players. King, who has the second highest average of the team, was absent from Tuesday’s match against North Mason. Allie Taylor and Megan Braddock, both seniors, are also on the varsity team. With varsity and junior varsity combined, Bremerton has 14 players.
When Lucas first started bowling as a freshman, she didn’t realize how team-oriented the sport was. She assumed that it was more of an individual activity. Although her dad and uncle were bowlers, she wanted to go out for football when she started high school but due to injuries, decided on bowling instead.
Lucas quickly learned that bowling is just as much a team sport as others.
“It’s not just you, it’s you as a team,” she said. “If we have our bad moments — and we do — we come together as a family.”
The Bremerton student-athletes practice five days a week after school and will up their practice time as they prepare for the postseason matches.
“I think it’s the best year we’ve had since I’ve been bowling,” said Duzenski, who has been on the team all four years. “We all get along better. There’s a better connection.”
Wagner said that this season his team’s average is up about 70 pins from past years.
In order to make it past districts to state, a team needs to take the top three — out of seven total teams — at districts.
And with the team’s “roughest day” behind them — Tuesday’s competition against North Mason was a lower scoring game for Bremerton, they can focus on postseason play.
They’ll keep doing what they do best.
“Unless you work together, you’re not going to go anywhere as a team,” Lucas said.