Joe Almon might not like his advice to the DeSales High School bowling teams being called a sales pitch, because the last thing the assistant coach wants to see is for his bowlers to pitch the ball.
"When you roll the ball, it picks up energy and will explode into the pins," Almon said. "When you pitch the ball, the ball has to land. When it lands, even though you can't see it, it stops and starts. When it stops, that takes off some of the spin on the ball and when it hits the pins, it won't hit with the same force. You want to build up energy as you go down the lane."
The Stallions took that attitude to heart and have built up momentum as the season has progressed. As a result, they broke new ground.
The boys team completed the program's first undefeated season and clinched the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division championship with a 2,077-1,954 win over Ready on Feb. 6. DeSales went 14-0 in the 15-team league, with runner-up Columbus Academy entering the week 12-1.
"We started piling up the wins and we kept getting more and more antsy," said senior Yusef Walton-Bridges, a first-year varsity bowler. "We were 8-0, then 9-0 and 10-0. Then it all came down to (Feb. 6). We all bowled well."
Tyler LaTorre rolled a team-high 383 series against Ready, followed by Walton-Bridges (378) and Anthony Hayes (366).
DeSales gained the upper hand in the league race when it defeated Academy 2,064-1,922 on Jan. 22.
"This is pretty neat," coach Connie Emlich said. "We get a lot of practice in early, and then once the competition starts, it's tough to get practices in and improve because we're bowling two and three times a week. In that respect, too, I'm very pleased."
The girls team went 9-3 overall and in the 13-team COHSBC-Central. The Stallions were tied with Hartley and Whetstone for third entering the week, behind division leader Ready (11-0) and second-place Northland (10-1). The Silver Knights and Vikings had to make up matches that had been postponed because of bad weather.
Amber Strohacker leads the Stallions with a 162.5 game average, followed by Haley Strohacker (150.6). Both competed last year when DeSales fielded only a boys team.
"It is different having a girls team," Amber Strohacker said. "The boys brought a lot of competition and I had to push myself harder. (With) the girls, I still push myself so I have a high average, but I help them while I work on my game."
The boys team begins the postseason Friday, Feb. 14, in the 30-team Division II sectional tournament at Sawmill Lanes. The top 14 teams and top 14 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to district Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
The girls team will participate in the Division I sectional Feb. 22 at Eastland Lanes.
Girls basketball team wins another CCL title
The girls basketball team held off host Watterson 36-33 on Feb. 6 to clinch its third consecutive CCL championship, a first in program history.
Jori Arnold, Joenyia Herd-Middlebrooks and Maggie Simon each scored eight points for the Stallions, who survived a last-second 3-point attempt to win the league title outright. DeSales, which finished the regular season 15-5 overall and 6-2 in the CCL, shared the league title with Watterson in 2011-12 and Hartley and Watterson last year.
"It was very exciting for the fans and very stressful for me," coach Brian Cromwell said. "The tempo was definitely in Watterson's favor. They like to grind it out and our girls did a great job of responding. It was different than what we're used to."
DeSales are seeded 15th in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 24th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the first round Monday, Feb. 17. The winner will play 20th-seeded Delaware in the second round Feb. 20 at the home of the higher seed.
The Stallions did not play either team during the regular season.
"Being new to Division I, I thought we might be seeded a little lower. We're right about where I thought we would end up," Cromwell said. "We had a list of teams we didn't want to see, and none of them are in the bracket we entered."
Last year in Division II, DeSales lost in a district final to league rival Hartley.
In 2012, the Stallions won their third district championship in seven years, with the others coming in 2006 and 2010.
Cummins sisters lead way for girls swimmers
Maureen Cummins of the girls swimming and diving team edged her older sister, Anne Marie, by .08 of a second to win the 100-yard backstroke in a Division I sectional meet Feb. 8 at Thomas Worthington.
Cummins won the event in 1 minute, 1 second, just ahead of runner-up Anne Marie (1:01.08). Both qualified for the district meet Saturday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State in the event. Maureen also qualified in the 100 freestyle by finishing seventh (55.97) and Anne Marie also qualified in the 100 butterfly after placing second (1:01.12).
The sisters also helped the 200 free relay to a seventh-place finish (1:48.34) and a district berth.
The 200 medley relay (sixth, 2:00.01) and 400 free relay (seventh, 4:24.25) also advanced to district.
For the boys team, advancing to the Division II district meet Friday, Feb. 14, at Ohio State in individual events were Coleman McKinney and Puzhen Yin. From a sectional that was run concurrent with Division I at Thomas, McKinney finished fourth in the 50 free (22.82) and fifth in the 100 free (50.48) to advance in both events and Yin qualified in the 100 breaststroke after finishing 18th (1:16.12).
The boys team also advanced in the 200 free relay (12th, 1:52.27) and 200 medley relay (10th, 2:00.62).
At sectional, the girls team finished seventh (95) behind champion Thomas Worthington (212.5) as 14 teams scored, and the boys team placed 11th (29) behind champion New Albany (207) as 14 teams scored.
Boys basketball team eyes Eagles rematch
The boys basketball team will seek to avoid its first winless CCL season in 51 years when it plays Watterson on Friday, Feb. 14, at Ohio Dominican University.
DeSales dropped to 0-7 in the CCL with a 43-35 home loss to Ready on Feb. 7 and fell to 6-14 overall with a 56-46 loss to host New Albany on Feb. 8. The Stallions went 0-10 in the CCL in 1962-63.
Justin Thompson had a team-high 11 points against Ready, as the Stallions led 18-17 at halftime but were outscored 12-6 in the third quarter.
Reed Norris had a season-high 13 points and Thompson scored 10 against New Albany.
DeSales lost to Watterson 54-49 on Jan. 10 at Otterbein. Eric Fitz and Ryan Peaks both had nine points to lead the Stallions.
DeSales concludes the regular season Saturday, Feb. 15, at home against Arlington. It then will prepare for the Division II district tournament.
The Stallions are seeded 22nd of 28 teams and will visit eighth-seeded Columbus South in a first-round game Feb. 22.
Hockey team preps for district tourney
After losing in the first round of the Blue Jackets Cup, the hockey team got more than a week to regroup for the district tournament.
The Stallions, who are seeded seventh in the district, took a first-round bye and will play 10th-seeded Cincinnati Moeller or Thomas Worthington in the second round at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The winner will play top-seeded St. Charles or Kettering Alter in a district quarterfinal Feb. 22 at the Ice Haus.
DeSales, which is 16-14-1 overall and finished 8-8 in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division, defeated Moeller 6-3 on Nov. 24 and edged Thomas 4-3 on Dec. 27.
The Stallions were seeded seventh in the Blue Jackets Cup and lost to second-seeded Dublin Jerome 8-0 on Feb. 6. Ben Risinger had 30 saves for DeSales, which trailed 1-0 after one period but allowed four goals in the second.