The coaches of defending state champion Archbishop Rummel and Baton Rouge’s top seed, Central High, are looking at their portion of the coed brackets for the Baton Rouge-New Orleans bowling bi-regional Thursday at Baton Rouge’s All-Star Lanes and trying to figure out what is in store for them.
Rummel is the bi-regional’s top seed after another undefeated season. But what the Raiders didn’t expect to see is the possibility that they would have to face two tough teams from their own district and the possibility of a championship rematch against the region’s fourth seed, St. Michael, just to get to the state semifinals.
Central took out perennial bi-regional participant Catholic High-BR in the Baton Rouge regional and have three local teams separating them and a chance to get to Acadiana Lanes for the semifinals on April 12. But that journey is full of potential pitfalls.
The event begins with a coed play-in match at 11 a.m. with No. 8 seed Scotlandville facing No. 9 Brother Martin. The winner of that match plays Rummel at 1 p.m. The other match in that bracket is St. Michael against Jesuit, with those two winners meeting at 3 p.m. for the right to go to Lafayette in the state semis.
In the other half of the nine-team bracket, Central will face seventh-seed Baker, and third-seed Denham Springs faces Broadmoor at 1 p.m. Those two winners meet for advancement at 3 p.m.
On the girls side, five teams will play, with the 4-5 seeds, Holden and Denham Springs, meeting at 1 p.m. to face top-seeded Albany at 3 p.m. On the other side, the Academy of Our Lady and St. Scholastica meet in a semifinal qualifier at 3 p.m.
Rummel coach Matt Caire took a look at his side of the bracket and knows it won’t be a cakewalk to the state semifinals.
“I thought our district play was over, and now there’s a possibility that we will face our two district rivals again,” Caire said. “Jesuit is a very strong team led by last season’s individual champion, Cory Ledet. They have bowled us very tight both matches. Brother Martin is a very talented junior-laden team. We have bowled them three times thus far this year, and they have the talent to go deep in the playoffs.
“St. Michael has an even stronger team this year than the one we faced in the finals last season. No matter how it plays out Thursday, we will have our hands full.”
Rummel returns four starters from last year, including seniors Charles Noble (223 average), Tyler LeBlanc (204), Craig Blakesley (195) and Josh Berthelot (200).
Caire pointed out the seniors “know it is their last go-around, and they have played well all season.”
Central has made great strides in the Baton Rouge districts, and a lot of that started last season after opening the year 0-4. The team won 10 straight before a loss to Redemptorist in last season’s bi-regional and has been unstoppable this year.
Central is sporting new jerseys the team purchased through fundraisers, along with better equipment.
“I believe the new equipment helped tremendously for obvious reasons, but I think the apparel did just as much good because the kids are able to show their pride in not only their school, but their team as well,” Central coach Phil Godley said. “Plus, it’s pretty cool to see all the parents and supporters in Central bowling apparel at matches and around Central.
“Coming into this season, I set three main goals for our team. Those were to win district, go undefeated and make the “Final Four” of the state playoffs. Well, two down and one to go.”
Central has received great play out of the top of its lineup, something that will be key in Thursday’s matches. The top average for the team is Jacob Garretson 195. Three 150-average bowlers have done well in the 1-2-3 spots.
St. Michael may be the wild card in the playoffs. Its lineup has been helped at the bottom with the addition of Gregory Snee (210), who transferred from Redemptorist, and joined returning power bowlers Anthony Russo (198) and Angela Falgoust (190).
Albany has the highest average player on the all-girls teams in Harley DeKeyzer with a 182 average, but Denham Springs is a four-time state champion.
This will also be the second year of the high school singles championships, which runs alongside the team event. All those team members bowling are still alive, as well as those who advanced without their teams, including Curtis Westmoland of Catholic High, who enters with a plus-200 average.
Along with boys defending champion Ledet, Colleen Cheramie of Vandebilt Catholic is also back to defend her singles crown.
The two teams advancing in the coed and girls divisions will meet the teams who advance from each division in the North-Southwest bi-regional for the state semis and finals at Acadiana Lanes in Lafayette on April 12. Admission at All-Star Lanes for the bi-regional is $5.