Drew Bookman has been so busy with academics, football and baseball over the past four years that he admitted not knowing Pickerington Central had a bowling team.

The extent of Bookman's bowling career before December was an occasional visit to a local alley with his family, both when they lived in suburban Denver and after they moved to Ohio, and maybe a few games during activities with his teams.

But during a get-together for the football team last year at Rule 3, Bookman began to realize he might be a natural bowler. With the only months remaining in high school, he decided to take up a new sport to fill the winter months.

"When I found out Roach coached the team, I figured I'd give it a try," Bookman said of coach Jason Roach, a longtime assistant in the football program.

Bookman's younger brother, Alex, followed suit, and the two have benefited from that decision throughout the season.

Drew Bookman led Central with a 184.9 average through 10 matches, 20.8 pins ahead of Alex, who is a freshman. The Tigers finished the regular season at 3-8 overall, 2-8 in the COHSBC-B Division and 1-4 in the OCC-Central.

"It was just something I ended up being good at," said Drew, who was the football team's kicker and punter last fall when the Tigers won the Division I state championship and will kick at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. "I tried to bowl one handed but I struggled with that so I ended up trying bowling with two hands and it worked out. A lot of people have a hard time with it but that's what worked really well for me. I'm having a lot of fun this season. I'm not sure I thought we'd do this well, though."

Bookman, who is a shortstop for the baseball team, averaged 36.9 yards per punt, made nine of 12 field-goal attempts and was 57-for-62 on extra points last fall.

He joined the bowling team in early January and made an immediate impact, bowling a 438 two-game series in his debut Jan. 8. He had games of 201 and 237 in a 2,314-2,031 loss to Hilliard Darby at Rule 3.

Alex Bookman's high series before Jan. 31 was a 385 in a 2,337-2,265 win over Marysville on Jan. 22 at Dragon Lanes. That also included his best game of the season, a 226.

"This is about what I hoped I'd average," Alex Bookman said. "(Bowling) wasn't something we really ever took that seriously, but we were good at it. We're competitive and I know we've both gotten better."

Roach also is not surprised by the brothers' success.

"(Football coach Jay) Sharrett said he'd never seen a kid bowl that well for not being a bowler. Drew could really spin it," Roach said. "Drew said he and his brother were just OK, not very good, but they've done all right, especially for Alex being a freshman. This freshman class might be the best we've ever had."

Basketball teams remain in title hunt

The girls basketball team remains tied with Gahanna for first place in the OCC-Ohio with one league game remaining, while the boys team controls its own destiny to earn at least a share of the OCC-Ohio championship with two league games to play.

The girls team improved to 15-4 overall and 8-1 in the league with a 73-31 win at Lancaster on Feb. 3, led by Jocelyn Tate's 20 points. Central kept pace with a 53-46 win at Reynoldsburg on Jan. 31 in which Nicole Stephens had 13 points and Madison Greene and Skye Williams each scored 11.

The Tigers visit Grove City on Friday, Feb. 7. That same night, Gahanna plays host to Lancaster.

The boys team enters a Feb. 7 home game against Grove City at 6-2 in the OCC-Ohio, tied for second with North a game behind Gahanna (7-1). Central was 14-4 overall before playing New Albany on Feb. 4 and will finish league play Feb. 14 at Gahanna.

Conner Maciag and Garner Wallace each had 15 points and Tahleik Walker added 11 in the Tigers' 63-48 win at Reynoldsburg on Jan. 31.

Central led 15-4 after the first quarter and 34-5 at halftime.

Swimmers prepare for sectional

The boys and girls swimming teams will compete in a Division I sectional meet Saturday, Feb. 8, at Upper Arlington.

Central will try to advance all six of its relays to district Feb. 13 at Ohio State for the third consecutive year, and three individuals will try to return to the meet as well in Brett Eberhardt of the boys team and Makenna Garn and Bella Jones of the girls team.

Eberhardt and Jones advanced to district in the 200-yard freestyle last year and Garn qualified in the 100 breaststroke.

After the OCC-Ohio meet Jan. 26 at Kenyon College, Eberhardt said he hopes to swim about 22 seconds in the 50 free at sectional and 49 seconds or better in the 100 free.

"This entire team has improved a lot," Eberhardt said. "Our relays are better even though we lost my brother (Trace, who now swims at Cleveland State), who was our fastest guy. We're showing some promise."

Eleven boys teams and 12 girls teams will compete at the sectional.

The winner of each event automatically qualifies for district. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.

Moore named girls golf coach

Greg Moore has been named girls golf coach, pending school board approval.

Moore, a business and marketing education teacher at Central, succeeds Alecia Larsen, who resigned after three seasons.

Moore currently is an assistant bowling coach for the Tigers and also has coached the Ridgeview Junior High boys and girls golf teams.

His daughter, Frankie, is a senior on the girls bowling team. Moore's son, Nick, lettered for the Central boys golf team as a freshman last fall.

The girls golf team expects to return four of its top five competitors from last season, when it went 9-11 in the OCC-Ohio to finish third behind champion North (16-4) and finished fifth (366) in a Division I sectional behind eventual state champion New Albany (286), two spots shy of advancing to district.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball and bowling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Feb. 7 -- Home vs. Grove City. The Tigers defeated the Greyhounds 65-42 on Jan. 3.

Feb. 8 -- At Newark

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Feb. 7 -- At Grove City. The Tigers defeated the Greyhounds 71-30 on Jan. 3.

Feb. 8 -- At Newark

Feb. 15 -- Home vs. 45th-seeded Westland in first round of Division I district tournament. The Tigers are seeded fifth.

BOWLING

Feb. 8 -- OCC Coaches Challenge at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl

*League contest