Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SPORTS >> Another state title

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys bowling team made a dramatic rally to win the state championship at Fort Smith last Thursday. The Panthers were 111 pins behind Bentonville after team play, which consists of adding up the combined totals of all six players bowling three games each. Moving into Baker’s format, which is each team’s top five bowlers bowling two frames each of three separate games, Cabot had made up the pin deficit to capture the state title 4,397-4,378.

“We bowled side-by-side with Bentonville, so we knew what they were doing, and they knew what we were doing,” Cabot coach Mike Nash said. “We wanted to get out in front and make them react to us. We wanted to put the pressure on them. They did that and showed some real mental toughness.”

Making it even more dramatic, Cabot lefty Dylan Wilson needed to pick up a 5-7 split in the very last frame to tie Bentonville. He did it to put give the Panthers the championship.

“There’s less room for error for a left-hander than a right-hander, so he really had to roll a good ball to get that. Once he picked it up, all he had to do after that was keep it out of the gutter, and we were going to win.”

After the tournament, Wilson and teammate Adrian Wilson were named to the All-State team.

The girls also turned in a strong showing, but were on the other end of the same scenario. The Lady Panthers led by 20 pins heading into Baker’s, but lost by 35 (3580-3545) pins to Rogers to come in second place.

The bright note for the girls is that Lady Panther junior Shelby Smith broke the state record with a three-game score of 700. In fact, she blasted the old state record of 659 set by Breanna Clark of Siloam Springs in 2006. Smith’s gold medal in the girls division would also have been good enough for silver in the boys division. The boys gold medalist bowled a 706.

“She is absolutely phenomenal,” Nash said of Smith. “She’s wonderful. She supports her teammates. She leads by example obviously. She’s never conceited, just never acted that way. She’s just a great person to have on the team. If you throw the scores out, she’s still a valuable member of the team because of who she is.”

Even with the disappointing finish, the girls team continues to be one of the elite bowling teams in the state. In the last four years, the Cabot ladies have two championships and two runners-up. It is the only team to finish in the top two all four years. Cabot’s score this season was higher than last year’s championship win, and the seventh-highest team score in state history. The Cabot girls have three of the top-10 highest scores in state history.

“This girls team has really worked hard,” Nash said. “They really listen, want to learn and get better. We have a girl, Sabrina Antimo, who had never bowled competitively before and she became a big contributor to the team. She’s just a great example of the how the whole team is great to work with.”

Nash gave much credit to assistant coach Ralph Pridmore.

“Ralph is a very good teacher and does us a great service with everything he’s done for us,” Nash said. “I’ve learned a lot from him the last few years.”

Nash also credited others who have played a key role in the team’s success.

“I want to thank Bill Allen and Allfam for his continued support, our parents and athletic director Steve Roberts for their support as well,” Nash said.