By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Chief Editor
GADSDEN- Their trip to Gadsden didn’t end in a state championship, but for the boys’ and girls’ bowling teams at Thompson as well as the girls at Spain Park, there was still plenty to celebrate.
Competing in the AHSAA State Bowling Tournament from Jan. 27-28, all three teams had strong moments between the two days, especially on Thursday’s opening day.
Playing traditional games of bowling to determine standings and individual state champions, all three posted someone in the top four of the individual standings.
One of the highlights came from Thompson’s Bodie Bubel, who shot the tournament’s only perfect 300 in his first traditional game.
He went on to win 238 and 190 bowling matches for a total of 628 between his three matches, which placed him third in the individual standings.
Bubel finished behind Hoover’s Alex Lee, while Spain Park’s Cole Henson won the individual title for the boys, ultimately leading the Spain Park men’s team to a state championship a day later.
The Spain Park girls also finished with third place in the individual standings, as Emma Hawkins broke a school record 244 in her second of three matches.
She rounded that off with games of 168 and 149 to finish with a total score of 561, 24 points behind Emily Lindsey and 27 points behind Jenna Webber, both of Sparkman High School.
The Thompson girls also put in an impressive performance in the individual girls standings with Gracie Connelly putting on an impressive opener.
Connelly actually won the highest match of any women’s bowler in the tournament in her first match with a score of 262.
She then followed that with scores of 129 and 155 to finish with a total score of 546. That was good enough for fourth place in the individual standings.
These efforts on the opening day of the tournament were part of the seeding portion of the tournament, as each bowler’s individual score counted towards the team’s overall score.
Spain Park ended up seeded No. 2 in the women’s tournament, while Thompson was seeded fifth.
The Jags had 2,296 team points, while Thompson finished with 2,160 team points.
For the boys, Thompson scored a total of 2,639 to earn the Warriors the No. 4 seed going into elimination day on Friday.
With the participation of the boys from Spain Park, three of the four teams present finally qualified for the semi-finals.
The Thompson girls fell in the first round, however, in a 4-1 battle with Southside Gadsden High School.
Thompson lost the Baker’s opener in a best-of-seven format by a score of 151-123. It looked like the Warriors would bounce back over the next two games, but they ultimately went down 132-125 and 160-149 in two heartbreaking losses.
They fought back for a solid 209-120 victory with the season on the line in Game 4, but then lost another heartbreaker in Game 5 138-133 to lose 4-1.
Three of their four losses have come by 11 points or less, as Southside advance to the semi-finals.
The girls from Spain Park and the boys from Thompson, however, were able to qualify for the Final Four.
The Jags took a 4-2 victory over Baker in the first round, taking a 3-0 lead with three wins by seven points or less.
Spain Park won the first three games by scores of 128-121, 124-117 and 149-147.
After these thrilling games, the Jags eventually lost the next two games 156-145 and 168-133 as the Hornets turned the momentum in their favor.
But Spain Park still held a 3-2 lead and were one game away from claiming victory. The Jags closed it out in Game 6 with an easier effort thanks to a 158-125 score.
The Thompson boys also won their opener with a 4-2 victory thanks to a late clutch play.
The Warriors fell behind after the opener against Vestavia Hills as the Rebels took a 193-164 victory.
That, however, was followed by 171-141 and 190-178 wins for the Warriors.
Trailing 2-1, Vestavia responded with a 194-182 fourth game to level the score at 2-2 and avoid a 3-1 deficit.
From there, however, Thompson pulled off a dominating 214-170 win in Game 5 to change the tone of the game, eventually ending the game one game later with a 166-157 victory.
This led the two to the semi-finals, where tough clashes awaited them.
Thompson found himself in one of the tournament’s most exciting battles against No. 1 Hoover, as the two fought for a spot in the state championship game.
The electrifying back-and-forth battle began in the opener, which actually ended in a 232-232 tie. Hoover, however, won a hard-fought 50-49 tiebreaker to take a 1-0 lead.
Thompson used that to fuel a strong second game, as the Warriors put up one of the best games of the tournament with a 259-193 win to tie the game 1-1.
This was followed by a 199-168 win and a 2-1 lead followed by a 192-143 win and a 3-1 victory.
From there, however, Hoover faced the pressure of the end of his season and responded. The Bucs won the next three games by 12 points or less in each to claim a 4-3 win and advance to meet Spain Park in the league game.
The Spain Park girls found themselves in a different situation, as the Jags fell to a 3-0 hole early.
They bounced back with a 160-130 win in Game 4, but Stanhope-Elmore then closed out the game with a 135-100 victory to end the Jaguars’ season.
The state champions ended up being the Spain Park boys and the Sparkman girls after two exciting days.