BY ALEX GRUBERMAN WEEKLY REPORTER
The Panthers looked to continue their great bowling and bring home the state tournament at this past weekend’s Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state tournament. The team would ultimately take home third place on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the start of the tournament, Coach Michael Imes said the two-day event was the big shot for his senior players.
“For the seniors this is it. They want to go out there and compete and give it all they have. It is going to be a tough crowd to beat as it always is. Harlem, Rockford East, and Belleville East will be there at top also,” Imes said.
Imes said the goal is always to win the tournament but he’s always happy when the team does well.
“Our goal is always to win it, but I’m also happy with a top five finish. We want to bring home some kind of hardware. There will also probably be some individual awards coming our way too,” Imes said.
For seniors Andrew Orf, Matthew Toohey, and Josh Bradshaw, this was their fourth straight appearance in the state tournament and their last chance to bring home a state title. Last year the Panthers finished third, with the year before that finishing in the top five.
With determination and fire in their eyes, the Panthers came out strong on Friday. All five starting Panthers threw over 200 to start the day off, including a nice 246 game for Matthew Toohey and a 242 game for junior Mark Hoerner. The second game was a struggle for the Panthers as they only shot a 955 game. Josh Bradshaw and Mark Hoerner both shot over 200 that game.
Coach Mike Imes must have said something to the squad after that game because the Panthers bounced back in game three. Four of the five starters had better than 200 pin games including a 267 game from junior Eli Rosenberg. The Panthers broke for lunch with 3,282 total pins and right there in the hunt. Eli Rosenberg finished with a 676 series; Mark Hoerner had a 675 series to finish the first block of games.
The Panthers returned from their lunch break fueled and ready to go. Mark Hoerner led the squad with a 243 game, followed by Andrew Orf with a 237 game. That trend continued in the second game as Orf had a 235 game. In the final game of Friday’s bowling, Coach Mike Imes made a substation and brought in sophomore Donny Richards for Josh Bradshaw. That substation paid off for Coach Imes as Richards came in and threw a 223 game, along with Andrew Orf’s 255 game. After all the bowling was completed and the numbers were crunched, the Panthers sat in second place only 43 pins behind Harlem High School heading into Saturday’s final matches.
The Panthers were well rested and ready to finish this state tournament off with a victory. As they did Friday, the Panthers came out of the gate with fire on their bowling balls. Four out of the five starters threw over 200 games, including Mark Hoerner’s 233 game, Andrew Orf and Matthew Toohey’s 224 games also. Just like Friday’s second game, the Panthers struggled to figure out the oil pattern and struggled in game two. Donny Richards came in for Josh Bradshaw again and added a nice 210 game to the mix. Game three was the bounce back game that the Panthers needed. Donny Richards had a 226 game and with a 249 game for Mark Hoerner, the Panthers were still in the mix to fight for the championship.
As they did Friday, the Panthers broke for lunch, and returned to action fueled and ready to go. However, the Panthers must have still been in a food coma, because they struggled to start the second block of games off. Matthew Toohey led the squad with a 244 game. Coach Imes decided to make a substation again and sophomore Josh Herran got to see some action. He added a 180 game to the Panthers mix. In the third and final game, junior Matthew Doyle entered the match and threw a 190 game.
After everything was calculated, the Panthers finished in third place. Andrew Orf also finished in the top five for individual bowlers averaging 224 for entire tournament.