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BOWLING: Riverview rolls along with its hopes high (PHOTO)

Members of the Riverview High School varsity girls bowling team gather at Belmar II Lanes in Trenton. In the front row are Taylor Kovach (left), Sam DellaPella, Michayla Acton and Niz Belles. Standing are Coach Erick Southward (left), Jessica Morgan, Courtney Brooks and Coach Lou Hicks.

Members of the Riverview High School varsity boys bowling team gather at Belmar II Lanes in Trenton. In the front row are Logan Parr (left), Christian Dudek, Jake Ciesla and Anthony Prior. Standing are Coach Erick Southward, Marcus Dyson, Korey Thomas and Coach Lou Hicks. Not present for the photo were Steve Toth and Brandon Asher.

Heading down the stretch in the highly competitive Huron League and into this weekend’s Division 2 state regional tournament, the members of the Riverview High School varsity bowling program had high hopes.

The Pirates swept the Milan Black team in the last day of the regular season. The girls won, 28-2, to improve to 7-7 in the league. The boys won, 26-4, as junior Jake Ciesla bowled a 241 game and the team’s lone senior, Korey Thomas, shot a 231.

“We really have a great team this year so far,” said junior Anthony Prior. “Everyone is pulling together. We’re a lot more consistent. Everyone’s average seems to have increased.”

“I’m so excited,” added girls team anchor and only senior Sam DellaPella. “I was excited going into the season, being my last year. The team is real good and really close. That makes it a lot easier.”

The girls almost didn’t have a team, DellaPella said. Only she and sophomore Michayla Acton returned from last season’s team.

“Then the other girls came out and we’ve been rocking it,” she said.

The returning two were joined by junior Jessica Morgan and three freshmen, Courtney Brooks, Niz Belles and Taylor Kovach. Most of the newcomers came with junior bowling experience, which made their chances even better.

At one point, the Riverview girls had a five-match winning streak – a rare fete in the Huron League – and placed fifth in the Bowl for Burns Tournament in Trenton.

“We have a lot of people bowling in high school for the first time, but it’s not their first time bowling in a league and you can really tell,” Coach Louis Hicks said. “We have such a young team, but you can tell they’re young, but not inexperienced.”

In her third year as anchor, DellaPella (154 average) and Brooks (151) led the team, followed closely by Morgan (148), Acton (133) and Belles (132), making the starting lineup formidable.

“I think we can hang with anybody,” Hicks said. “We’ve proven that by beating a few of the top teams that have a chance to go to states. We’ve shown a lot of confidence. They enjoy bowling together. They’ve developed their own cheers and cheer each other on.”

DellaPella has been the girls team anchor for three straight years. She plans to attend Grand Valley State University and go to law school.

“Sam took over as anchor in the first match of her sophomore year and never gave it up,” Hicks said. “It’s her senior year and like every other year she’s had an excellent attitude and is always willing to change if she needs to make an adjustment. In one match, Coach (Erick) Southward had Sam change something with her approach and she bowled her highest game of the season. By her second game, it was automatic.”

Each girl has brought something to the team, Hicks said.

Morgan, who has bowled in leagues her whole life, was a “very consistent, intelligent bowler” who understands how to approach different oil patterns, he said.

Acton, the Pirates’ lead-off bowler, showed much improvement and took on challenges successfully at practice at Belmar II Lanes in Trenton.

Belles made a point of bowling a lot outside of regular practice. The result was a boost of 25 to 30 pins in average.

Brooks is another freshman who brought plenty of experience and talent to the team.

And Kovach “is another kid with a great attitude,” Hicks said. “She’s always working to get better.”

Hicks was in a good position at the start of the boys season. Riverview had two varsity teams in last year’s Huron League, which meant five starters were returning for the current season.

“They’re great kids,” Hicks said. “Of the five starters, three have been with us for three years and the nice thing with them from day one is we knew what to expect. They haven’t stopped working hard and have a positive attitude.”

That’s important in the Huron League, “where we’re always going up against really good competition,” the coach added.

Ciesla, who leads the boys team with a 198 average in his second year of varsity bowling, and Prior, who finished his third regular season with a 174 average, have shared the anchor spot in the lineup this year.

“Both of them can bowl with just about anybody,” Hicks said. “They’re very talented bowlers and very experienced. They’re on teams in the summer and they bowl on their own. They’re used to different oil patterns. They’re both good kids and they’re both willing to work.”

Thomas, the only senior on the boys team, bowled in the lead-off and three spots throughout the season and carries at 161 average.

“When Korey is on, he can have some of the highest games in the league,” Hicks said. “He really loves to bowl. He’d practice all night if we let him. He practices after matches if we let him. He’d practice during school if his teachers would let him.”

Junior Logan Parr is one of the most consistent bowlers on the team, putting together games of 184 and 185 in one match. He’s averaging 151.

“He’s improved a lot since last year,” Hicks said. “He also does a good job of bouncing back. If he leaves a frame open, he comes back. He does a good job taking the game frame by frame.”

Junior Christian Dudek, back for his third year, carries a 157 average. Hicks said Dudek is a “calm kid” with a positive attitude “who goes out there and does his best.”

Rounding out the boys team are sophomores Brandon Asher and Stephen Toth and freshman Marcus Dyson. All three could be key bowlers in the seasons ahead.



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Last Updated: 2/21/2014 1:19:34 PM EST

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