Despite losing to Westerville Central on Jan. 20, the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls bowling team remains in contention for its first Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North Division championship.

Despite losing to Westerville Central on Jan. 20, the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls bowling team remains in contention for its first Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North Division championship.

The Lions are 7-1 in the COHSBC-North and entered the week second in the league behind Central (7-0).

Gahanna turned in a season-best score in its 2,233-1,948 loss to Central. The total was 142 pins higher than its season average through 10 matches.

Kelsey Ferguson led the Lions with a 356 series, including a high game of 200. She leads the team with a 167 average, followed by Harmony Kirtos (160), Sarah Lebowitz (148), Morgan Wiles (140) and Erika Reed (137).

"I'm very happy with the girls," coach Bruce Zink said. "They are just doing so well. I'm not surprised because this group of girls works real well together. They've been working real hard in practice and they're good."

The Lions won the third annual Central District Preview on Jan. 14 at HP Lanes. They advanced to the single-elimination championship round after finishing eighth in the qualification round with a 3,156.

In championship play, Gahanna had three come-from-behind wins in the best-of-five Baker format rounds, defeating defending champion Central in the first round, Whitehall in the second round and Ready in the final 3-2. The Lions trailed Central 2-1 and trailed Whitehall and Ready 2-0 before rallying to victory.

Central was first after the qualification round with a 3,757.

Kirtos led Gahanna with a 559 series, including games of 185, 196 and 178, to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.

"That was like the best feeling we've ever had," Kirtos said of winning the Central District Preview. "It was the biggest turning point of the season. It should give us a lot of confidence because it shows that we can beat anybody in the league."

Gahanna played without its top bowler, Ferguson, who had another commitment.

"The tournament win was huge," Zink said. "It was a come-from-behind win. The girls made it in from the qualification round and then to have to go through the first-place team in the first round is tough in any sport, and certainly it is in bowling."

Gahanna, which is 8-2 overall, is enjoying another success season. Its best record since becoming a varsity sport in the 2007-08 season was 14-1 in 2009-10. Last season, the Lions were 12-2.

Gahanna is seeking its first state tournament berth as a team.

"We've never been to the state tournament, but this year that is our goal," Kirtos said. "We just have to keep moving forward and don't worry about other people, worry about yourself. We have to keep working together."

•The boys team was 4-7 overall and 3-6 in the COHSBC-North before competing against Thomas Worthington on Jan. 25.

Gahanna scored 242 pins higher than its average through 11 matches in a 2,196-2,136 loss to Central on Jan. 20.

Tanner Betke led the Lions with a 409 series, including a high game of 217.

Ryan Rudd was leading the team with a 174 average through 11 matches, followed by Betke (166), Shane Walker (158), Brandon Pierce (155) and Bryan Dickey (143).

The Lions finished 10th (3,422) in the Central District Preview behind first-place Westerville South (4,208) in the qualification round as the top eight teams advanced to championship play. South went on to win the tournament, beating Jonathan Alder in the final.

Betke led the Lions with a 569 series, followed by Rudd (560).

"I thought the boys might have won a couple more games, but I'm not disappointed," Zink said. "This is the first year we haven't had two full squads, so it's a little more difficult. We try and get all the kids to bowl so we really don't have extra players to sub in if one of our players is having some trouble, so it's a little bit different this year than it has been in the past. Even with the number of kids that we have, they are doing really well. I'm impressed with their work ethic and how they're able to overcome adversity and come from behind."