Byrd girls bowling team rolls into today’s state semis

GOING ON STRIKE?: C.E. Byrd’s girls No. 13-ranked bowling team state semifinalists are (Front, L-R) seniors Lola Carlisle, Madilyn McCrary (captain), Olivia Osbon and (Back, L-R) juniors Cathleen Stevens, Jadyn Martin, Kaci Green, Maddisen Rook, Erin Hanson, and Cicely Dawson, pictured at Acadiana Lanes after a 16-11 quarterfinals victory over No. 5 Central Lafourche.

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Momma won’t allow throwing the ball inside.

But if you roll it, that’s OK.

And some female student-athletes at C.E. Byrd High have figured out how to do that awfully well.

Trying to score a “first” for north Louisiana in the LHSAA bowling world, the No. 13-ranked Byrd girls team faces No. 1 Ponchatoula in the state semifinals of the Ochsner LHSAA Bowling Championship at 10:30 a.m. this morning at All Star Lanes in Baton Rouge.

At 1:30 p.m., the winner will face the survivor of the other semifinal between No. 2 Dutchtown and No. 6 Denham Springs.

If Byrd can make it happen, the Lady Jackets will become north Louisiana’s first bowling team champion since the sport became LHSAA-sanctioned in 2005. They are the first north Louisiana team in the semis since Parkway’s boys team in 2010.

“The Lady Jackets are a good team because they are a united team who remain focused, positive, and encouraging each match,” said Paula Rowe, their coach and a teacher of history and government at Byrd. “The girls fiercely protect their team dynamic. No negativity allowed. Of course, they put a lot of work in at practice and on their own time.”

Rowe said the leadership of Madilyn McCrary, four-year varsity bowler and the team’s captain, “has been a fundamental part of our team’s success. At the beginning of the season, we were impacted by COVID-19 and a few injuries. But as the season went on, the girls recovered, and our new bowlers further developed their skills in the game.”

In a Shreveport-Bossier area that proved well balanced, Byrd finished 7-5 and second in district to Loyola College Prep, who lost in Round 2 of the playoffs to St. Amant. Captain Shreve was 5-7 and Airline 4-8; the semi-logjam could have been a reason for Byrd’s lower seed.

Regardless, the Lady Jackets seem to have gotten hot at the right time, mainly because of the back-end of the lineup. Teams get the same amount of points for its No. 1-spot (sixth-best bowler) winning as it does for its No. 6, or best, bowler. It’s a format that favors depth.

“The strength in our playoff victories came from our 1-3 bowlers as much as from our 4-6,” Rowe said.

“McCrary and Kaci Green consistently performed each game in the 2 and 3 spots and won critical points. Erin Hanson came back in game 3 of both (playoff) matches to help secure the win against (No. 4) H.L. Bourgeois (in Round 2) and (No. 5) Central Lafourche (in the quarterfinals). Jadyn Martin, Maddisen Rook, and Cathleen Stevens continued to provide strong pinfall (the number of pins toppled during a match) and impressive scores against strong bowlers from the other teams.”

Stevens and Rook also qualified for Singles State Finals, which will be Friday. Other female student-athletes competing Friday are Paris Mendones and LaBresha Lars (Airline) and Ysabella Griego (Loyola). In the Boys Singles State Finals Friday, area competitors include Chris Kouba (Airline), Caden Hutchinson (Byrd) and Jack Perrett (Benton).

Crescent City Sports of New Orleans is partnering with the LHSAA to live stream the semifinals and finals. The link is http://crescentcitysports.com/live-game-streams/

Coverage begins just prior to the 10:30 a.m. start of the four semifinals, with whip-around coverage of those matches, and continues with the girls championship at 1:30 p.m. and the boys final at 3:30 p.m. CCS’ Ken Trahan and Lenny Vangilder will be joined by Kent Lowe on the broadcast.