ORLAND PARK | T.F. South boys bowling coach Erik Valiska thought his team did everything it needed to do Saturday to advance to next week's state finals.
At the Andrew Sectional, the Rebels avoided the 800 game that cost them a regional title. They totaled over 6,000 pins, picked up a 299 gave from senior Taveon Roberson and had all five bowlers have their best day of the season.
A third trip to the finals in five years seemed like a given. Unfortunately, in a sectional that featured two of the last three state champions, T.F. South’s best wasn’t quite good enough.
Minooka won the title with 6,510. Bolingbrook edged the Rebels 6,240-6,185 for the sixth and final state qualifying spot.
“To bowl (close to) a 6,200 and not advance is mind boggling,” Valiska said. “I’m disappointed, but to finish seventh in this sectional you have to be doing something pretty well. I’d be surprised if these teams weren’t at the top next week.”
T.F. South was in the final qualifying spot heading into the last game, feeling good about its chances. The Rebels had a 65-pin lead on then seventh-place Andrew with the lane conditions breaking down and the scores dropping.
However, the Thunderbolts came up with their best game of the sectional, rolling a 1,115 to jump two places and knock T.F. South out of contention.
“We have nothing to hang our heads about,” Valiska said. "Andrew just bowled a great game.”
Despite the heartbreaking finish, there were still plenty of positives for the Rebels, including the season-high, six-game series score. Every bowler averaged a 196 or better.
Then there was the performance of Roberson, who was 12th overall. In addition to his 299 game, he finished with a 1,328 and qualified for the individual state finals next week at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon.
“It feels good to have made it, but it’s bittersweet because I would have rather went as part of the team,” Roberson said. “It was painful the last game, because Andrew was in the lane next to us. We were opening frames as they were closing them, seeing their scores going up. Knowing we needed to play catch up was frustrating.”
The T.F. North duo of Javon Brown and Kenny Bowie both posted season-high averages of 197 and 192, respectively. It was still disappointing to Brown
“It was a rough morning,” Brown said. “I bowled well (Saturday), but it just wasn’t good enough to move on.”