Being the top seed in a singles final at the LHSAA bowling championships has advantages and deciding the bowling order is one of them.
Dutchtown’s Sydney Lee and Shaw’s Jonathan Arena made different choices. Both were winners on Friday at All Star Lanes in Baton Rouge.
Lee opted to finish her frames first. She opened with seven straight strikes on the way to a 258-217 win over Airline’s Paris Mendones in the girls final.
Arena decided to go last. He stepped up for the 10th frame needing to respond to 10 straight strikes from Dutchtown’s Preston West. He needed two strikes and a little more.
Arena rolled two strikes and then knocked down seven more pins with his final shot to claim a 287-280 victory.
“My approach was not to worry about what Preston does. Just bowl your game,” Arena said. “You get to the 10th frame and you know what you’ve got to do.
“That was the best game I have ever bowled in my life, especially to beat someone as major as Preston. But from warmups through that last fame, I felt like this was my day.”
Lee also felt confident throughout the rounds.
“I took it one shot at a time,” Lee said. “If I didn’t roll a strike, I picked up spares. I counted my steps, thought it through, took deep breaths and let it (the ball) off my hands nice and easy. It worked.”
Each champion beat the competitors who were the state leaders in average all year — West had a 238 average and Mendones averaged 215.
Neither leader was the front-runner in the qualifying round that featured more than 120 bowlers. Arena rolled a 730 series to emerge as the boys’ top seed. West barely made the top six to advance to the boys playoff. Lee’s 665 series was 26 pins better than Mendones on the girls side.
Dutchtown’s Ashtyn Yoches and Woodlawn’s John Cadorwere the bronze medalists in the new stepladder format used for playoffs.
Though West came up just short of a singles title, Dutchtown was arguably the two-day event’s pacesetter. The Griffins won their first girls team title Friday. Addison Legendre joined Lee and Yoches in bracket play.
A group of parents and teammates on hand to cheer during bracket play added to the atmosphere.
“That was a great finish to the year,” LHSAA bowling coordinator Rick Bourgeois said. “I think the stepladder format worked well. There were about 100 parents here cheering added some excitement.”
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