When the 2022-23 season began, Massac County Patriots bowling coach Jason Steele and assistant coach Gary Adkins weren’t at all sure what to expect of this year’s team.
Could sophomore Cal Ginger repeat his 2021-22 season?
What could they expect from Ginger’s sophomore classmates Brayden Jennings and Gabe Rottmann, both novices to the varsity bowling scene?
It wasn’t long before I was told in confidence, “I believe we could be pretty good.”
That hopeful statement proved to be prophetic.
The season unofficially ended for the Patriots on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Mt. Vernon’s Nu-Bowl in the IHSA regional tournament.
Herrin, led by sophomore Chase Lannom, shot a whopping 6286 series to take the regional title and advance to the sectional tournament, which will be this Saturday, Jan. 21, at Collinsville’s Camelot Lanes.
That 6286 for Herrin averages out to a real nice 209 per game, per bowler — five bowlers rolling six games each.
Massac County missed advancing to Collinsville by a scant 98 pins. That may sound like a lot, but when you figure six games per bowler times five, it averages out to a tad over 16 pins more for the team (one spare and decent count), or 3.25 pins per bowler per game. It sort of reiterates what I’ve heard since the inception of Massac’s bowling program, “Take care of your spares and make every pin count.”
While the team didn’t make the cut, Ginger and Rottmann did. The pair advance to this Saturday’s tournament in Collinsville.
Ginger made it last year and was “mildly amazed” at the scores he saw at the Alton sectional. Ginger acquitted himself nicely for a freshman swimming in the deep end, finishing smack in the middle of the 160-plus player field and averaging a respectable 172 for the six games.
Last Saturday, Ginger rolled an 1159 series at Mt. Vernon, a 193 average, while Rottmann, who just wanted to try bowling this winter, shot an 1130 for an average of 188. Another sophomore neophyte, Brayden Jennings missed the cut by a mere nine pins rolling an 1110 series. It took 1119 to make the list of 10 advancing individuals.
Massac’s 5484 series was filled out with the scores of seniors Luther Hawes and Jase Stewart. Stewart rolled games of 169, 214, 211, 160, 177 and 135 for a series of 1066, while Hawes shot games of 196, 193, 177, 153, 153 and 147 for a 1019 series.
After the first session, Massac was in solid shape with a pin count of 2900, which was actually good for second-place overall. But the second session proved costly as they slid from second to sixth place in the 12-team field.
Steele and Adkins praised this bunch of kids to high heaven for this year’s effort. “Early on, these boys figured out what it takes to be competitive and to improve … and they did.”
For Hawes and Stewart, it was a bittersweet ending to a real nice year, and for Ginger, Jennings and Rottmann, it was the beginning of what we hope are bigger and better things.
Congratulations on a great year, boys!
I said earlier that Saturday, Jan. 14, was the unofficial end of the season. The Patriots bowled in the Carterville Invitational on Monday, Jan. 16, and, in a 14-team field, finished fourth behind Carterville, which has placed second in Mt. Vernon regional; Salem, which won its regional; and Mascoutah, which placed second in Salem regional.
“The boys got it Monday, they really took care of their business!” said Adkins and Steele.
After the three-game regular tournament competition, the top eight teams were paired off in baker games where the opponents bowl two games and each bowler is limited to two frames per game. After a first block win over Mt. Vernon, Massac bowed out in the second round to Centralia. Centralia lost to Salem in the championship round.
Individually, Ginger finished fourth overall and Rottmann just missed the top 10, finishing 12th.
Nice way to end things, boys!
Now, good luck to Ginger and Rottmann this Saturday at Collinsville.