GREENFIELD — Postseason bowling has officially arrived.
After two tough matches Monday in Greenfield-Central’s final regular-season meet, all eyes move toward Saturday’s Indianapolis South Conference Sectional at Expo Bowl in Indianapolis.
The Cougars boys team, which currently is ranked No. 6 (team average) in the state, finished its season 8-2 and second in the Indianapolis South Conference after a “heartbreaking” defeat to Franklin Central on Monday evening. On the girls side, Greenfield-Central finished 6-4 and third in conference play after defeating the Flashes 6-4 on Monday.
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However, both teams made their presence known at last year’s sectional, as the boys took home the team title and the girls finished second after a perfect regular-season campaign and conference championship (10-0).
From there, the boys advanced past regional and semistate competition and on to the state finals, where they finished 12th overall. The girls advanced to semistate but fell just short of the state finals.
Greenfield-Central head coach Brian Petrey said he believes, despite practically two new squads, both teams have what it takes to duplicate last year’s performances.
But after losing two valuable seniors from last season, the Cougars boys team will rely heavily on a mix of youth and experience to get them back to the highest level of competition.
Six freshmen, two sophomores and a junior and senior fill Greenfield-Central’s roster.
None have been more important than Ryan Hubert, who has led by example as the only senior on a team filled with underclassmen. Although he doesn’t bowl the highest average, his presence has been felt within the program.
“I’m pretty quiet when I’m bowling,” Hubert said. “The way I’ve tried to lead is by just trying to set a mature example for our younger bowlers; not being cocky if we’re bowling well and not getting so upset about missing a shot.”
Added Petrey, “He has a good, steady mind. It helps the others stay level headed in big moments.”
Hubert is averaging a 191 this season.
He said the team, despite the last regular-season loss, is confident entering postseason play. Down 4-1 at one point Monday, the Cougars rallied back but eventually fell short 6-4. The experience was valuable, according to Petrey, and should translate well in the upcoming weeks.
“I put five freshmen in and they almost came back and won conference for us,” Petrey said. “But all of them were down there; I stress to them it’s a team effort.”
The six rookies on the team might be young, but they are anything but new to bowling. Last year, as eighth-graders, four of the six finished third at the middle school state finals.
“They are tournament tested,” Petrey said.
The boys team won seven matches in a row at one point this season, with the Cougars’ only other loss coming in the second meet of the season, a 1-1 defeat to Franklin Central.
Junior Clayton Spegal leads Greenfield-Central’s boys in average at 202, while sophomore Zach Knopp (201) and freshman Jake Hubert (200) are right behind him.
And although small in numbers, the girls team continues to improve with each match. Four juniors and two sophomores make up the Cougars’ roster and Petrey believes they will be a tough out this weekend.
“Progressively, over the last few weeks, they have started to beat some of the higher end teams,” he said. “They are getting better from the start of the season and taking people down to the last point.
“They should be a very dangerous team, as well. They are probably 50-60 pins from being out of the top 10 (in the state rankings).”
Junior Alisa Lopez leads the girls with a 152 average, while classmate Brittany LaFlower averages a 149.
After dropping its first contest of the season, the Cougars won 5 of 7 matches down the stretch and used the final regular-season win to grab momentum entering the state tournament.
On Saturday at Expo Bowl, the singles state tournament will begin at approximately 9 a.m., with the team tournament to begin at 1 p.m. later that afternoon. The event will run until around 5:30 p.m.
The top three teams (total team score) from the sectional will advance to regional action on Feb. 6 at Bowl 32 in Noblesville. From there, the semistate will be played at Championship Lanes in Anderson on Feb. 13 with the Indiana High School Bowling State Finals to conclude Feb. 20 at Arrowhead Bowl in Lafayette.
According to Petrey, the Cougars, Perry Meridian and Franklin Central should be the favorites to advance past the sectional. The Flashes beat both teams, twice, during the regular season.
Whiteland will be the favorite on the girls side, Petrey added.
Center Grove, Southport, Roncalli, Greenwood and Greenwood Christian also will be present Saturday at the sectional.
Name, Grade, Average
Clayton Spegal, 11 (202)
Zach Knopp, 10 (201)
Jake Hubert, 9 (200)
Will Blagburn, 9 (195)
Jonathan Harnish, 10 (195)
Michael Harter, 9 (195)
Ryan Hubert, 12 (191)
Jayln Hensley, 9 (187)
Bryce Sowder, 9 (180)
Jacob Harnish, 9 (DNB)
Alisa Lopez, 11 (152)
Brittany LaFlower, 11 (149)
Tasha Adams, 11 (144),
Emilee Woodall, 10 (132)
Emily Paschal, 11 (124)
Taylor Russell, 10 (one match)
Greenfield-Central Postseason Bowling
What: Indiana South Conference Sectional
When: Saturday, 9 a.m. (singles) and 1 p.m. (team)
Where: Expo Bowl, Southside of Indianapolis
Teams: Greenfield-Central, Perry Meridian, Franklin Central, Whiteland, Center Grove, Southport, Roncalli, Greenwood and Greenwood Christian.
Cost: $5 for students, $7 for adults