The first match of the season for in-district rivals Denham Springs and Catholic saw two teams heading into the match on long winning streaks and both undefeated. Catholic had already served notice to the rest of the state with a season defining win earlier in the season over Brother Martin. Brother Martin is the most decorated high school bowling program in Louisiana right now and is the most recently crowned state champion from a couple of years ago. They boasted the longest regular season winning streak in Louisiana high school bowling of 49 games. Catholic brought that streak to an end and has since reeled off several other wins heading into the match with Denham, 6-0. Denham Springs on the other hand has faced a litany of teams providing little challenge on the way to a 5-0 record with an average margin of 25-2. Today would put both teams to the test.
Game one started off strong for both teams but especially for Catholic on their low lane with their one bowler drifting off a long string of strikes to end the first game with a crushing 269 and a win against an otherwise solid performance in the one spot for Denham. The difference between the two teams was in that matchup. Denham took two wins on the high lane but found themselves down 90 pins total The score was 2-5 in favor of Catholic after 1. The Jackets reeled off a solid but rather pedestrian 1164 (194 average) for the first game to Catholic’s 1254. Cade Fletcher led the team with a 208 in the first game.
Game two saw the best performance by both teams in the match, with Catholic dropping another incredible game by one of their seniors on the low lane with a massive string of strikes and a finishing score of 278. Denham saw 5 of it’s 6 bowlers over 200 for the game but still managed to lose ground when Catholic matched the feat and gained another 121 pins on the total advantage. Dylan Fowler tossed in a 227 for the Jackets on the low lane to notch a win against a 224 on the Catholic side. Sophomore Quincy Brown dropped in a stout 244 on the high lane to peel off a point against one of the best bowlers in the state. The effort also saw three other 200 games by Mason Ballard (219), Gabriel Eunice (214) and Cade Fletcher (212). After game 2, the Jackets found themselves down 5-11 and down another 121 pins for a grand total of -211 for the two games. The Jackets finished with a season high 1224 in the game (204 avg).
Game three saw the Jackets down in a desperate situation needing to win all 6 matches and take total pins in order to bridge the gap left by the first two games. By the fifth frame of the last game the Jackets were stringing them strong and actually had a lead near the difference and saw 5 of 6 bowlers ahead in their matches. Still, Catholic is not a team to take a challenge lying down and they began to run off the strikes towards the end of the game and close off all hope for the Jackets to pull off the late win. The Jackets closed the gap by 45 pins overall in the last game taking it 1168 to 1123.
The match saw four bowlers over 600 for the Jackets and the same number for Catholic. The difference in the match was a few exceptional games for Catholic vs. a few anomalously low efforts on the Jackets score sheet. Two matches and total in one of the other games would have made the difference between a loss and a win. In high school bowling, a 16-11 margin is a relatively close match especially with teams where every man on the roster is capable of games over 250. In the end the Jackets had 10/18 games over 200 and another 6 games over 180.
The final for total pins was 3556 for Denham Springs and 3722 for Catholic. The total difference was 166 pins, almost all of which fell in two matchups with games over 250 for Catholic. Still, it was a great performance with the Jackets putting themselves in a position to make a run and win the match against the strongest Catholic team in the last few years and a clear Final Four capable team. We know what we have to work on and where we can go from here. We know there is some ceiling we left out there and realizing that ceiling is the next step between getting close against state title contenders and making a long playoff run knocking those teams off.