CHICAGO | Things didn’t start out the way Mount Carmel coach Steve Gorches may have hoped but a familiar ending more than made up for it at the Lindblom Regional on Saturday.
After starting the day with an 825 game the Caravan found themselves near the bottom of the standings but they wouldn’t stay there for long as they averaged nearly 1,000 pins a game for the rest of the day to walk away as regional champs.
“825 games to start the day aren’t very good,” Gorches said. “It was just like the sectional last year; we started slow and finished strong and advanced to the state finals.”
If Gorches continues to get the production from the bottom half of his roster that he got Saturday another trip to the finals isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Mount Carmel’s number four bowler, Christian Whitaker, rolled a 1,363 series to take home the individual title.
“We practiced really hard for this so winning the team and individual titles feels good,” Whitaker said. “We just communicated with each other and try to pick each other up, it was important that we stayed positive.”
Trailing by 180 pins early the Caravan started their comeback and by the break had cut the difference to less than 100.
Entering the last game of the day the chant “We are MC” started to echo through the lanes; with every mark it would sound again energizing the Caravan who turned a 22 pin deficit into a 77 pin margin of victory.
“Hearing that gave us more energy and really got us into it,” Whitaker said. “It makes you want to bowl better for your team and your school; we did the same thing last year during the comeback at sectionals.”
Joining Whitaker in the top ten for the Caravan were Mike Stepanovic in 8th place and E.J. Camacho in 10th.
“This is the first title from an Illinois High School Association event for Mount Carmel,” Gorches said. “It’s a big deal; Christian really stepped up for us today, when your anchor averages 230 I’ll take it.”
Across the lanes T.F. South found itself in a dog fight all day in the Chicago Brooks Regional.
After four games the Rebels had moved into second place and trailed eventual champion Morgan Park by less than 60 pins as the two squared off head to head in a decisive fifth game.
After five tight frames where both teams exchanged marks waiting to see who would be the first to flinch it was T.F. South that faltered allowing the Mustangs to extend their lead and end the Rebels title hopes.
“The middle game of each session killed us,” T.F. South coach Erik Valiska said. “We were over 1,000 every other game today but we were a little late making adjustments in the fifth game”
The good news for T.F. South was the performance of Andrew Johnson and Justin Abston who both averaged at or above 200 pins to go along with 1,305 series of Taveon Roberson who received All-Sectional honors for the Rebels.
“The oil pattern today was the same one we’ve been practicing on and that allowed me to stay consistent,” Johnson said. “It feels really good to see all of our hard work payoff.”
By advancing to the Andrew Sectional the Rebels also kept alive their goal of reaching the state finals for the third time in five years.
“We bowled well today,” Valiska said. “The good news is we know that we can bowl better and that’s a good thing.”
It was a disappointing day for T.F. North who finished in 8th place but the Meteors did advance two bowlers to the sectional.
Senior Javon Brown and freshman Kenny Bowie will both move on to the individual sectionals after finishing in the top ten bowlers not on a sectional qualifying team.
“This feels better than anything I’ve achieved in the previous three years,” Brown said. “Knowing that I have a chance to go down state is better than bowling one last day then being done.”