Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SPORTS >> Cabot girls team rolls to state win

Leader sports editor

The Cabot girls bowling team took its second 7A/6A state championship in three years with a 131-pin victory over Searcy while the boys finished second to Searcy at the Jonesboro Bowling Center on Feb. 16.

With a 624 series, Shelby Smith earned overall medalist honors, becoming the first Cabot girl to do so. Smith was also named all state and her overall score was the fourth highest all-time for any female bowler in all seven classifications.

Kelly Bustos rolled a 478 at state, Haley Patterson had a 460, Emily Burgan rolled a 422, Lisa Ridgeway finished with a 415 and Shelby Eddy posted a 379.

Smith, last year’s bronze medalist, has also qualified for the Junior National Finals this summer in Las Vegas.

“I am so happy for these kids,” coach Mike Nash said. “They have worked hard all year and their showing at state is the evidence of their hard work.”

Cabot finished second last year after the girls won the state championship in 2009.

“The girls trailed Searcy by 10 pins after the first bakers game,” Nash said. “But closed out with games of 182, 185 and 196. They were very determined to not let last year repeat itself.”

In conference and state tournament play, six bowlers bowl three individual games each and then the team bowls four bakers matches. In a bakers game, five players bowl alternate frames.

Searcy beat Cabot by 37 pins to claim the state championship in the boys division but Cabot’s second-place finish was its best to date. The Panthers were third in 2008.

Cabot’s Cody Bunting (647) and Kenny Pederson (679) made the all-state team while Dylan Wilson rolled a 641 series, Jace Jennings had a 616, Nick Jones had a 358, Stormy Pecchioni rolled a 344, Kyle Kaufman posted a 188 and Adrian Nichols finished with a 156.

“The boys led the entire time and let it slip away in the last bakers game,” Nash said. “Although they were disappointed, they now know what it takes to win state and I believe they will work that much harder over the next year to get back in position to win state.”

Both Cabot teams went 7-0 in 7A/6-Central Conference play with the girls finishing second to Searcy by three pins in the conference tournament and the boys finishing third behind Searcy and Benton.

Patterson (493), Burgan (469), Smith (523) and Bustos (550) were named to the all-conference team and Bustos was the overall medalist. The four selections mark a program best for the Lady Panthers.

“Before the season started, we were nervous about our girls team,” Nash said. “We only had three returning from last year’s team, but through try-outs we were able to pick up some very good bowlers.”

Pecchioni (577 series) and Pederson (601 series) were named to the boys all-conference team.

The Panthers’ two all-state and two all-conference selections are boys program highs and Bunting is Cabot’s only two-time, all-state choice.

“All things considered, this was our best year,” Nash said of the program’s overall finish.