The Groveport Madison High School boys bowling team is on an early-season roll and appears to be well on its way to surpassing its win total from last season.
Junior Brandon Klentz rolled a two-game 447 series to lead the Cruisers to a 2,096-609 win over Africentric on Dec. 13 to improve to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division.
Africentric competed with only three bowlers.
Groveport is 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division, having beaten Lancaster 2,101-2,027 on Dec. 2 before losing to Newark 2,066-1,864 on Dec. 4.
Last season, the Cruisers finished 7-13 overall, placed seventh (6-8) in the 11-team COHSBC-South behind co-champions Jonathan Alder and Westerville South (12-2) and went 0-5 in the six-team OCC-Ohio to finish last behind champion Newark (5-0).
"The boys are looking pretty good," second-year coach Shon Jenkins said. "Our consistency is pretty good. We're between 30 and 40 pins higher in Baker games from last year and the guys seem to get along much better than last year."
Sophomore James Jervis was leading the team in game average (208.8) through four matches, followed by Klentz (180.8), freshmen Jordan Bennett (174.8) and Dakota Harmon (154.5) and sophomores Devon Stepney (150.8) and Austin Harmon (114).
"I've been working with James for quite some time and he just throws a very nice ball with a real smooth delivery," Jenkins said. "He's a traditional bowler. Brandon and Jordan are both two-handers and that's something that is becoming more common. The first time I saw it was when I was bowling with a friend about five or six years ago. There are two guys in the PBA right now who are two-handers."
Klentz was an individual district qualifier last season. He rolled a 521 series (192-174-155) at district at HP Lanes to tie for 46th of 117 competitors after rolling a 674 (288-222-164) in the sectional at Columbus Western Bowl to finish first of 166 competitors.
The only other returnee to compete at sectional a year ago was Austin Harmon, who finished 110th with a 353 (110-128-115).
Girls bowling team seeks improvement
First-year girls bowling coach John Haney has set modest goals for his team this season given that it has little experience.
"It's definitely going to be a rebuilding year for the team," he said. "We've got three first-year bowlers in the top five. We're not as strong as we were in the past.
"We're working hard on basics and the main goal is to get the girls improving and be ready for the sectional."
Junior Elizabeth Moore, a two-year letterwinner, had a team-high 180.8 game average through four matches. Another returnee, senior Tewana Smiley, was next with a 113.5 average, followed by sophomore Kahlia Killen (101.5), junior Bonnie Kyle (99.2) and sophomores Loren Jackson (93.8).
The Cruisers beat Africentric 1,445-1,112 on Dec. 13 to improve to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the COHSBC-South. They are 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio, having lost to Lancaster 1,534-1,394 on Dec. 2 and Newark 1,352-1,251 on Dec. 4.
Last season, Groveport finished 9-8-1 overall, placed fourth (8-5-1) in the 11-team COHSBC-South and fourth (1-3-1) in the six-team OCC-Ohio. The Cruisers did not have enough bowlers to compete in the postseason as a team.
Moore qualified for district a year ago as an individual, rolling a 449 (181-142-126) to finish 48th of 118 competitors after rolling a 467 (133-168-166) to place 17th of 157 competitors in the sectional at Columbus Western Bowl.
"Moore will definitely be our anchor and I think she will have more postseason success," Haney said. "Although Smiley has some experience, she's still improving and working on things."
Boys basketball team struggling in OCC play
The boys basketball team headed into a game against Lancaster on Dec. 17 looking for its first OCC-Ohio victory.
Groveport was 4-2 overall before facing the Golden Gales, with all four wins coming against non-league opponents.
The Cruisers opened OCC-Ohio play Dec. 9 with an 80-53 loss to Gahanna and lost to Grove City 96-66 on Dec. 13. They entered their game against Lancaster having won only three of their previous 45 league games.
Groveport defeated Walnut Ridge 67-65 on Dec. 14 behind 13 points apiece from A.J. Crowder and Tyrone Cherry. Crowder and Cherry both went 2-for-2 from the foul line in the final minute to help the Cruisers secure the win. Groveport finished the game 28-for-32 from the line while Walnut Ridge went 14-for-29.
Tyrell Carter and Ty Ferguson both added 12 points against the Scots and Carmearl Thomas had seven points and 11 rebounds.
Groveport trailed Grove City 27-7 after the first quarter and never recovered. Carter had a team-high 19 points, followed by Cherry with 13 and Tre Charles-Martin with 10.
A slow start also doomed the Cruisers against Gahanna, as they trailed 25-6 after the first quarter. Ferguson had 14 points and Crowder scored 10.
In a 56-51 win over Franklin Heights on Dec. 10, Cherry had 20 points and Carter scored 19.