Johnny Lemaster of the Big Walnut High School boys bowling team knows just how close he came to rolling a perfect game.
"In the first frame, I left a solid (No.) 8 pin, and that's not very normal for a righty," the senior said. "It's when the ball deflects off the head pin and doesn't drive through it as well as it normally does. I don't know what happened on that shot, but it was perfect."
Lemaster collected the spare and was perfect the rest of the first game, rolling 11 consecutive strikes to finish with a 290. He went on to roll a 195 and a 191 in the next two games to finish second of 242 competitors in the Division I sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes with a 676 series, behind Marion Harding's Eli Cox (697).
Lemaster led the Golden Eagles to a ninth-place finish (3,843) of 42 teams, behind champion Marion Harding (4,336). The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes.
Erin Hoover (567, tied for 46th) was next for Big Walnut, followed by Jacob Bowens (536, 65th) and Bryan Mengel (438, 134th). Brayden Buchs (327) rolled two games and Andrew Hettingna (146) rolled one.
"The boys lost three starters from last year, so for them to finish ninth is impressive," coach Scott Morrison said.
The girls team also advanced to district with a strong performance, finishing second (3,762) of 37 teams at sectional Feb. 22, behind Westerville Central (3,777).
"They finished only 15 pins back of Central, which goes to state pretty much every year," Morrison said. "We out-bowled Central in Baker games by 10 pins, but they had a 25-pin lead heading into those games."
Autumn Leidke led the Golden Eagles, tying for ninth of 222 competitors with a 559. She was followed by Anna Tanner (552, 12th), Kaitlyn Morrison (542, 14th), Ashleigh Westervelt (514, 28th) and Caitlyn Lambert (471, 50th).
At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. The girls compete Friday, March 8, and the boys compete Saturday, March 9.
Two wrestlers advance to district
Ryan Colletta and Max Lenz represented the wrestling team in the Division I district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
Colletta, a junior, finished first at 152 pounds and Lenz, a junior, placed third at 220 in a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Watkins Memorial, from where the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district.
Colletta went 3-0 at sectional, defeating Walnut Ridge's Sihlas Padmore 4-2 in overtime in the championship match, to improve to 37-10 on the season. Lenz went 3-1, beating Licking Heights' Wyatt Peters 6-2 in the third-place match, to improve to 34-8.
Senior Josh Halbakken (170) went 2-2 and placed fifth and was a district alternate, and freshman Gavin Miller (160) went 2-3 and placed sixth. Senior Levi Piceno (126) and junior Noah Hines (heavyweight) both went 1-2.
Big Walnut finished ninth (65.5 points) behind champion Westerville North (240).
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament Thursday, March 7, through Saturday, March 9, at Ohio State.
Boys basketball team opens postseason
The boys basketball team played at 15th-seeded Gahanna in the second round of the Division I district tournament March 1.
The winner plays third-seeded Pickerington Central or 44th-seeded Columbus West in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 6, at a site to be determined. That winner faces seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg, eighth-seeded Upper Arlington, 27th-seeded Westerville South and 35th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district final Saturday, March 9, at Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 14 at Ohio Dominican.
Big Walnut, which was seeded 26th and had a first-round bye, was 14-8 before playing the Lions.
Girls team falls in district semifinal
Trailing 14th-seeded Bloom-Carroll by 17 points late in the third quarter of a Division II district semifinal Feb. 26, the girls basketball team turned up the pressure.
Third-seeded Big Walnut came up with 12 steals and forced 22 turnovers and senior point guard Erin Boehm hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute, but it wasn't enough, as the Golden Eagles fell to the Bulldogs 44-42 to finish 18-6 overall.
Bloom-Carroll advanced to play fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder in a district final March 2.
"We put an enormous amount of pressure on them with some half-court traps, and they struggled with it more in the second half," Golden Eagles coach Jason Crawford said. "We were able to take them out of their rhythm."
Boehm finished with a game-high 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and junior guard Avery Schone scored 13.
Bloom-Carroll opened the game with a 13-0 run and led 25-14 at halftime.
"At halftime, we were sitting in the locker room thinking it's do or die," Boehm said. "We had the confidence to come back. We have fight in us. Every single one of us has that desire to win. We just didn't get it done in the end, but we believed in each other."
The Golden Eagles, who went 8-2 in the OCC-Capital Division to place second behind Newark (10-0), are losing two seniors in Boehm and forward Emily Neff. Boehm averaged a team-best 12.1 points and was named first-team all-district and all-OCC-Capital.
Among the expected returnees are Schone, junior guard Alexis Schone, junior forwards Brooke Stooksbury and Alyssa Tarney and junior forward/center Payton Carter.
Avery Schone averaged nine points and was named third-team all-district and second-team all-league. Carter averaged 6.5 points and was special mention all-league, and Tarney was honorable mention all-league.
Sophomore guard Abby Brown also is expected to return, along with junior post player Abby Facemyer, who missed the season with a torn ACL.
"We have a good group of girls coming back," Crawford said. "But we're going to miss Erin tremendously."
Gymnasts end season at district
Kayla Hildebrand led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Big Walnut's lone senior tied for 65th of 92 competitors in the all-around with a 30.25. Her finish was led by her performances on balance beam (7.95, 67th) and floor exercise (7.725, tied for 103rd).
Freshman Angelina McConnell was 84th in the all-around (27.75), led by her performances on vault (7.55, tied for 112th) and floor (7.4, tied for 113th).
Junior Ekaterina Brammer tied for 87th in the all-around (27.5) with a 7.65 on vault (tied for 100th) and a 7.6 on floor (111th), and sophomore Sydney Cornwell was 92nd (26.2) in the all-around.
The top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to state individual meet March 2 at Hilliard Bradley.
Big Walnut finished 19th (113.1) of 24 teams at district, as Thornville Sheridan (145.205), Dublin Jerome (139.8) and Olentangy (139.65) advanced to the state team meet March 1 at Bradley.