CALUMET CITY | Bowling has not been kind to T.F. South over the past two weeks, and through the first half of Saturdays South Suburban Blue Conference meet it appeared that trend would continue.
The Rebels came into the meet with high expectations but after an up and down morning found themselves sitting in fourth place almost 200 pins behind leaders with three games to go.
But then something improbable happened.
Balls that had hooked too early found the pocket, pins that wobbled and stayed up started falling, and open frames started becoming spares.
In the fourth game the Rebels cut the deficit to 82 pins and by the end of the fifth game found them leading by 16 with one game to bowl.
“I told them they had two choices, they could just go through the motions in the second half or they could try to put some pressure on the leaders and see what happened,” T. F. South coach Eric Valiska said. “We got back into it in the fourth game and I think that gave them the confidence they needed to bowl well in the fifth.”
Hollywood couldn’t have scripted the finish any better than it played out. On a day where no team could seem to break 900 pins in a game the Rebels strung together three straight 900+ games to climb to the top of the standings.
In the decisive fifth game the Rebels bowled a 943 while leaders Tinley Park could only manage an 868 and watched the Rebels jump from third to first.
Taveon Roberson was his normal steady self, bouncing back from an up and down morning to capture the individual title. But the key to the team title may have been the performance of teammates Kurt Clancy and Kalin James who also brought home All-Conference honors.
Clancy was steady all day, finishing in 6th place overall. After struggling in the fifth game, James clung to the top 20 when he rolled a 226 in the final game to finish in ninth place.
“My teammates helped me all day today, giving advice and helping me adjust,” Clancy said. “It feels really awesome that I was able to contribute to us achieving something huge.”
By the end, the Rebels had turned a near 200 pin deficit into an easy victory, coming all the way back to win by nearly 100 pins.
“If someone would have told me we would go from a 794 first game to conference champs I would have said they were crazy,” Valiska said. “We need guys to keep stepping up and we can be pretty good."
Things didn’t go as well for host T.F. North who struggled all day on their home lanes to finish seventh.
“The lanes weren’t great today and we didn’t adjust,” T.F. North coach Steve Twietweyer said. “We should have been able to adjust better than anyone else since this is our home lanes, but these are 16- and 17-year-old kids we’re talking about.”