The Centennial High School boys bowling team surprised coach Brian Hamilton by going 9-5 in dual matches this season.
The Stars, who were forced to combine their boys and girls squads because of a low number of participants, will look to continue to surpass his expectations when they compete in the sectional tournament Saturday, Feb. 16, at Columbus Western Bowl.
The top nine teams and top nine individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes. According to Hamilton, the Stars will need to turn in their best performance of the season to qualify for district.
Last season, Centennial finished 20th (2,172) in the 28-team sectional at Eastern Lanes behind champion Westerville South (2,831).
"Our kids beat my expectations by going 9-5, considering how low our numbers were and how inexperienced we were at the beginning of the season," Hamilton said. "We would have to have an exceptional day and bowl 200 pins over our team average to make it to district, but we've seen a lot of improvement from all of our kids and we've gotten a lot better as a team, so I think it's possible we could make it if everyone bowls their best that day."
Centennial finished seventh (9-5) in the 16-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division, behind Ready (14-1), Columbus Academy (12-3), DeSales (12-3), Brookhaven (11-4), Grandview (10-5) and Watterson (10-5).
The Stars' match against Columbus West on Dec. 5 was postponed and, as of last week, had not been rescheduled.
After posting a season-low score during its opening 1,929-1,570 loss to Brookhaven on Dec. 3, Centennial gradually improved its score. The Stars had a season-high score in a 2,092-1,918 win over Academy on Jan. 15 and scored 1,900 or better while winning six of their final eight dual matches.
Justin Taylor has a team-high 192.8 game average, followed by Tyler Bastian (176.3), Russell Chambers (155.4), John Fowler (148.9) and Matt Ballard (117.9).
"If our entire team doesn't make it, Justin and Tyler are both capable of bowling 200 to make it to district as individuals," Hamilton said. "The biggest thing at Western is getting used to bowling in really crowded lanes. Our kids can't let themselves get distracted by other teams bowling really good scores around us. They need to stay focused and keep their spirits up even if they see another team bowling a lot better than us."
Girls basketball team seeded fifth in district
The girls basketball team is seeded fifth of 26 teams in the Division II district tournament and has a first-round bye.
Centennial will play host to 13th-seeded Mifflin or 15th-seeded Caledonia River Valley in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 20. The winner will face second-seeded Brook-haven, 14th-seeded Bexley or 24th-seeded Linden-McKinley in a semifinal Feb. 27 at New Albany.
The Stars swept Mifflin in City League-North Division play this season, winning 96-22 on Nov. 30 at home and 73-38 on Jan. 8 at Mifflin. They have not played River Valley this season.
"To win in the tournament, we have to play together as a team," coach Darrin Green said. "River Valley is a mystery since they don't play many games against central Ohio teams, but Mifflin isn't a bad team and they've gotten better as the year has gone on. We need to be ready to play good defense because we're a defensive-minded team."
Centennial split its league games against Brookhaven, winning 52-44 on Feb. 1 at home after losing 53-44 on Dec. 7 at Brookhaven, but swept Linden, winning 90-8 on Dec. 14 and 63-9 on Feb. 5. The Stars have not played Bexley.
In the win over Brookhaven, forward Aubri Caslin had 16 points and 10 rebounds, point guard Alyssa Dean had 12 points and guard Akiya Brown scored 11. Caslin had 18 points and Dean scored 17 in the latter win over Linden.
Caslin had 13 points in a 53-34 loss to Watterson on Feb. 4 and scored 21 in an 87-22 win over West in the Stars' regular-season finale Feb. 7. Dean had 24 points and Brown scored 12 against West.
Centennial, which is 16-6 overall, finished 11-3 in the City-North to tie Brookhaven for second, behind Northland (14-0) and ahead of Beechcroft (6-8), Whetstone (5-9), Columbus East (5-9), Mifflin (4-10) and Linden (0-14).
"Brookhaven was a big win for us, especially with the tournament coming up," Green said. "Brookhaven used a 3-2 zone against us the first time and we didn't adjust to their game plan very well. They used the same zone against us again and we broke it by making better passes and getting to the foul line.
"We played horrible against Watterson and we didn't adjust defensively to what they were doing, but we're going to learn from that loss and be a better team moving forward."
Wrestlers place seventh in City
The wrestling team scored 82 points to place seventh in the City League tournament Feb. 9 at home.
Centennial finished behind Mifflin (192.5), West (187), Whetstone (170), Marion-Franklin (148.5), Columbus South (124) and Brookhaven (98) and ahead of Walnut Ridge (74), Briggs (61.5), East (58), Northland (58), Linden (56.5), Africentric (39), Independence (37.5) and Beechcroft (18).
The Stars did not have anyone reach the finals.
Girls swimmers win sectional title
The girls swimming and diving team scored 332 points to win the four-team Division II sectional meet Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington ahead of Grandview (306), Wellington (297) and Ready (19).
The boys team placed second (252) in the five-team Division II sectional Feb. 9 at UA behind Grandview (280) and ahead of Watterson (214), Wellington (92) and Ready (8).