BY SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
The OTHS Boys Bowling Team couldn’t really have imagined a much better start to the 2016-17 season, as the Panthers scored their first conference win of the year before a promising performance in tournament play.
On Thursday the boys opened Southwestern Conference Play at Bel-Air Bowl against Belleville East, and the match would come down to the wire.
The Lancers were clinging to a 23 pin lead after the first two games, but the Panthers rose to the occasion and rode strong performances from senior Andrew Orf and junior Mark Hoerner to a two pin win over their rivals.
“What a way to start conference play,” Head Coach Mike Imes told the Weekly. “This has become a pretty intense rivalry, so we went to Bel-Air expecting a good match. Coach Baringer has his team ready for us when we play.”
The Panthers were led by Orf’s 676 series, which just edged the 673 series put up by Hoerner for the varsity team’s best.
Leading O’Fallon for the entire day, however, was Matthew Doyle during the JV match. The junior rolled a 687 series to pace the Blue and Gold to a 2381-2144.
Sophomore Josh Herran would also lead the way, shooting a 421 across the two games he competed in.
On Saturday, OTHS made the long drive north to take place in the Plainfield North Bowling Tournament. Due to a format change caused by a last minute change in venue, teams would compete in five games with a lineup of four bowlers each.
The Panthers stumbled a bit in game one, shooting a 767. The team average of 191 was not what O’Fallon was looking for, as they watched themselves fall into an immediate 167 pin deficit off the lead.
Luckily for the Blue and Gold, the first game was merely an outlier on a fine team day of bowling, as the Panthers scratched and clawed their way to a second place finish that, without a dominant game four from Bolingbrook, would have likely been a gold medal.
In the end, the Panthers would finish 97 pins behind first place Bolingbrook. Lake Park, Plainfield Central, and Oswego would round out the top five.
The lane pattern was a little slicker than we normally see,” Imes added. “The guys did a good job of staying focused and they kept making adjustments.”
OTHS senior Matt Toohey would place second overall individually, shooting a five game score of 1143, just 13 pins out of first place.
Toohey would lead a group of three Panthers in the top 20 on the day, as Josh Bradshaw would turn in an 11th place finish and Andrew Orf would place 17th.