Monday, February 13, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers repeat league bowling

Leader sports editor

If records counted in conference meets, the Cabot girls’ bowling team would have broken their own Wednesday in the 7A/6A-Central meet at AllFam Bowling Center in Cabot.

The Panther boys didn’t beat any records, but they dominated nonetheless as the Cabot teams made it a championship sweep.

Both Cabot teams now look forward to next Wednesday’s state meet in Lowell, where the boys and girls will be vying for state championship number six. The boys have won the last five in a row. The girls will be going for their third-straight, and sixth overall.

Panther bowling coach Clark Bing was pleased with how both teams bowled on Wednesday, but still thinks they could do better.

“They bowled very well,” said Bing. “I don’t want to sound like I think they didn’t. I’m just saying the promising thing is, I think they could do better. There were some frames or pins left out there. But they did very well any way you look at it.”

Since state records only count in state meets, the Lady Panthers’ score of 3,817 won’t go down as the new record, but it beat the 3,724 they set last year at the state meet.

The Lady Panthers held a 314-pin lead (3,099-2,785) over Mountain Home going into the Baker’s round. That’s a comfortable lead, but not insurmountable.

“You want to start well and stay consistent,” Bing said. “The goal is to put the pressure on them going into the Baker’s. We were able to do that.”

But the Lady Panthers didn’t let up. They outscored Mountain Home 718-559 to increase the final margin.

Lauren Bunting was the only medalist, taking third place in the individual scoring for the Bronze Medal. The top nine make All-Conference, and Emily Tripp and Allison Hicks scored high enough to earn that honor.

“We had some girls bowl above their average and that’s what you need this time of year,” Bing said.

The Cabot boys only beat Lake Hamilton in the Baker’s round by five pins, 817-812, but they took a whopping 707-pin lead into it. The Panthers swept all three medalist positions and was the only team in the tournament to break 4,000 pins. They beat Lake Hamilton’s score of 3,945 with a 4,657.

Keaton Hayes won Gold with 701 pins. He averaged 233.7 with a high round of 279. Josh Imhoff started with a 185, but got better with each round. He bowled a 227 and then a 258 to earn Silver. Cole Stillman, who was the state medalist last year, also got better with each round. He started with a 195, then 226 and finished with a 238.

The Panther teams scored better on Wednesday in their conference meet than the winning teams in the 7A/6A-West did, but Bing is not hanging his hat that a sixth state championship is a given.

“We still have to bowl well,” Bing said. “We can’t be worried about what other people are doing. You never know what played into certain scores. Most of those teams had probably not bowled in Conway before that, and they bowl up in Bentonville all the time. Little things can make a difference. We just have to focus on being our best.”