DIXON – If the Sterling and Dixon girls bowling teams are planning a run to state, they’ll have to step up their games from the 36th Dixon Invitational on Saturday at Plum Hollow Lanes.
The Golden Warriors finished seventh in a 24-team field with a total pinfall of 5,235, while the Duchesses placed ninth with 5,223. Harlem (5,606), Freeport (5,548) and Lockport (5,493) claimed the top three team finishes.
“I think we could have won this tournament,” Dixon sophomore Emily Quaco said, “and it’s kind of sad that we didn’t, because it’s our tournament.”
“I was hoping to get first, second or third,” Sterling junior Destinee Howard added, “but we kind of struggled a little bit today. I think we deserved what we got.”
Howard topped the Golden Warriors with a total pinfall of 1,130. She had a 612 in the morning, then came back with a 518 in the afternoon.
She was backed by Amber Granzow (1,124), Brandy Behrens (1,102), Magan Tintori (959) and Samantha Lewis (920). Granzow had the top game for Sterling with a 226, and also won the post-tourney Queen of the Hill competition.
Dixon was in position for a strong team finish with a score of 3,623 through four games, behind just Harlem (3,818), Freeport (3,668) and Belvidere North (3,660) at that point. The Duchesses fizzled out in the fifth game, however, with scores ranging from 179 to 105.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Dixon coach Larry LaCoursiere said, “but we started throwing some high shots and splits, and missing spares. It became contagious, and the whole team just fell into a hole.”
Dixon slipped to eighth place, finishing with a combined 751 in the fifth game. The Duchesses rebounded a bit in the sixth with a team score of 849, but lost another spot in the standings to wind up ninth overall.
Quaco was consistent all day, with six games ranging from 167 to 198 on her way to a total pinfall of 1,091. She was followed by Autumn Day (1,043), Jenna Longan (1,021) and Kayla Bonnette (1,017). Devan Gearhart (892) bowled five games and Ashley Currier (159) rolled one.
Gearhart had the high game of the day for Dixon, a 246 in her second game of the morning. She also had the team’s low game, a 105 in the afternoon, prompting LaCoursiere to bring in Currier for the final round.
Sterling and Dixon will head in opposite directions for next Saturday’s sectionals. The Golden Warriors are assigned to the East Moline Sectional, where they’ll compete at Highland Park Bowl in Moline. Among teams in the field at Dixon that will also be at that sectional, Sterling had the top score.
“We do good at East Moline,” Howard said. “Amber had a 780 there, and when we bowled them for a match, we had a 1,071. I think we’ll do good there.”
The Duchesses will likely face a tougher road at the Auburn Sectional. Harlem, Freeport, Belvidere North and Guilford are among the squads in the field at Don Carter Lanes in Rockford.
A year ago, Dixon finished with a sparkling 5,850 sectional total, but was nosed out of a state berth by Harlem (6,154) and Guilford (5,870).
“Maybe this will be a little bit of an eye-opener and they’ll try a little bit harder,” LaCoursiere said. “We definitely have the capability. It’s just getting everybody firing on all cylinders at the same time, and I think we will.”
Harlem didn’t post its eye-popping sectional total from a year ago, but its 5,606 was good enough to get the job done at this year’s Dixon Invite. The Huskies had been second at tournaments in Rockford, Rock Island and O’Fallon before claiming their first crown.
“It’s very nice to get a win under our belt,” Harlem coach Jim Heathscott said. “In my opinion, winning is contagious. I’m hoping it catches us.”
The top individual was Moline sophomore Jessica Howell, who had all six games over the 200 mark on her way to a final score of 1,320. She opened with a sparkling 265 and didn’t let up from there.
“I’m really happy for all my hard work,” Howell said. “I really focused in to get my spares, as well as the strikes. I just moved with the lane conditions and tried my best.”
Top 3 teams
1. Harlem 5,606
2. Freeport 5,548
3. Lockport 5,493