DeKALB – The Sycamore girls bowling team looked down and out heading into the third game of Thursday’s dual meet with DeKalb, trailing by 11 after co-captain Kelsey Johnston suffered a wrist injury in Game 2.
But Sycamore coach Andy Hampton called upon Lannie Howerton, who bowled well in two games on the junior varsity earlier in the evening, and the freshman came through. In her first varsity game, Howerton bowled a score of 184, the second-best game of the day for the Spartans, and Sycamore took the series over DeKalb, 2,738-2,716 at Mardi Gras Lanes.
“Making the move to bring up Lannie Howerton was a blind move,” Hampton said. “She had bowled well, so I thought, ‘We’ll stick her in and give her some experience.’ I wasn’t really thinking about the outcome of the game, I wasn’t thinking about the outcome of the series … You start adding the numbers up, and you’re like, ‘Wow, I think we’re going to win this game,’ and then you keep adding the numbers up, and you’re like, ‘We might bail out the series tonight.’ So it’s a great feeling.”
Sophomore Kelly Drake led the way for the young Spartans, who are 20-6 in conference, with a three-game score of 526. Morgan Jones finished with a score of 462. As a sophomore, Drake knows how much of an adjustment her young teammates are making.
“[It’s difficult] to get used to things, just being different bowling in leagues to bowling in high school,” Drake said. “You travel more and you bowl more games … [Our coaches] know how to make us adjust.”
DeKalb’s Maddy Jouris bowled the high series of the day with a three-game score of 601. The Barbs lost a few key bowlers from last year’s team, and coach Bill Holland knows this group has room to improve before regionals.
“We hope we do well enough to contend at regionals,” Holland said. “Maddy Jouris has gone to state a couple of times, so she knows what it’s like up there as a team, as an individual and as a backup.”
A few lanes down, the DeKalb boys led throughout the contest and won the series, 3,810-3,671. After struggling to close out series’ throughout the season, all six Barbs bowled at least 191 in the third game.
Seth Pinne bowled a team-high series of 712 to lead the way for DeKalb, which is in solid position to win its first Northern Illinois Big 12 regular season championship of the program’s three-year history. Michael Belluzzi scored 707, Will Todtz came in at 663, and Sean Mattingly was just behind with a score of 662.
“We went up every game, and that’s really exciting,” coach Ernie Pinne said. “We’ve had a tendency to be a little flat in the third game … This right here, finishing strong in the third game will take care of that.”
Sycamore couldn’t come from behind to win the series despite strong days from senior Kyle Bonnell and freshman Trevor Smith, who both finished with three-game scores of 710. Still, the Spartans have plenty of room to grow with three talented freshmen making up half of their varsity lineup.
“Coming into the season knowing freshmen would be on varsity, I was iffy about it, but ever since the season started, we’ve all blended,” Bonnell said. “We’re all friends, we all help each other out, and they’re impressing us.”