An offseason of practice has been paying dividends for the members of the Bexley High School boys bowling team.
The Lions have seen their individual averages rise and their win total increase, surpassing their six wins from last season with a 1,743-1,540 victory over Columbus Academy on Jan. 23.
After finishing 6-6 last year, Bexley was 7-5 both overall and in Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-C Division before facing Whetstone on Feb. 6.
"The kids have practiced a lot more because last year was our first year as a program," said Peter Roberts, who is co-coach with Brian Talabere. "Last year, we didn't know whether we would have a team until October. This time, they were able to work on their games in the offseason and come in here a little more prepared."
Tyler Roberts, the junior son of coach Roberts, led the Lions with a 182.1 average through 11 matches. Last year, he finished with a 164.8 average.
"The season has been going great," he said. "We're positive and ... we have five of us back playing from last year. Everyone is here as a team and we help each other relax."
Also back from last season are juniors A.J. Cox, Jordan Herman, Zach Herman and Haven Horton-Kunce. Zach Herman has increased his average from 138.4 last year to 151.6.
"I think it's because we have been staying calm and focusing on the game," he said. "We have been focusing on where to throw the ball and the coaches have been a big help with that. We all have been working together.
"My concentration has really improved. Bowling takes a lot of concentration out there but there is so much noise -- especially in tournaments -- that you have to close your eyes, take a deep breath and throw the ball. For me, it's all about concentration."
Two senior newcomers, Isaac Halter and Miracle Williams, also have added to the success. Williams was second to Tyler Roberts in average at 160.5 and Halter had a 151.5 average in his last four games before competing in the MSL-Ohio Division tournament Feb. 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
"Isaac and Miracle have been great for us," Talabere said. "Miracle has been consistent all year, and Isaac started averaging around 100 and is now up around 150 or 160.
"Plus all of our players spent time working on the fundamentals last year. Now that they have gotten those down they can work on controlling the ball more and reading the lanes."
In the MSL-Ohio tournament, the Lions finished fourth (3,005) behind Whitehall (3,525), Worthington Christian (3,300) and Grandview (3,059) and ahead of Academy (2,689). Worthington Christian earned the title by winning a 3-0 roll-off with Whitehall.
Tyler Roberts rolled a 568 series to finish fifth of 30 participants and earn first-team all-league honors. Jordan Herman was ninth (459) to earn second-team all-league, and Zach Herman was honorable mention by finishing 15th (404).
"The team is looking great and we hope to have everyone (but the 2019 seniors) back next year," Tyler Roberts said. "As long as we get a few more bowlers, we should be OK."
Girls team prepares for league showdown
The girls basketball team is tied with Worthington Christian for the MSL-Ohio lead at 5-1 and visits the Warriors on Friday, Feb. 8.
Bexley won the first meeting 40-37 in overtime Jan. 5 as Maddy Vincent scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half.
The Lions were 10-8 overall after defeating Liberty Union 50-39 on Feb. 5. They are seeded 13th of 24 teams in the Division II district tournament and open the postseason at ninth-seeded Caledonia River Valley on Feb. 19.
Boys team's league losing streak grows
The boys basketball team was 10-7 overall and on a four-game winning streak in non-league contests before playing KIPP Columbus on Feb. 5.
The Lions were 2-5 in the MSL-Ohio and had lost three league games in a row after falling at Academy 61-50 on Feb. 1.
Nasir Tucker had 21 points with four 3-pointers, and Damian Davis scored 16 in his return after missing four games with a leg injury.
Bexley also lost league games to Whitehall 44-42 on Jan. 18 and Grandview 58-45 on Jan. 26.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Feb. 9 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Feb. 12 -- At Hamilton Township
*Feb. 8 -- At Worthington Christian. The Lions defeated the Warriors 40-37 in overtime Jan. 5.
Feb. 9 -- At Columbus School for Girls
*Feb. 11 -- At Grandview. The Lions defeated the Bobcats 39-21 on Dec. 7.
Feb. 13 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 9 -- Division II sectional at Columbus Academy. The winner of each event along with 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district Feb. 14 at Ohio State. There is no diving at sectional.
Feb. 7 -- Home vs. Columbus East and St. Charles