Boys bowling: Highland bowlers have come together during postseason run
In just about every tournament over the past two months, the Highland boys bowling team has been performing more like an ideal team each time out, according to head coach Janee Babbitt.
Those words were never more accurate than when the Trojans not only qualified for Saturday’s Indiana High School Bowling state finals at Mike Aulby’s Arrowhead Bowl in Lafayette at last Saturday’s semistate in South Bend, but they also won the title, defeating Lake Central in the semifinals and Northrop in the final.
The core of seven bowlers — Adam Batliner, Jonathan Payne, Tayler Peters, Jake Riffle, Logan Rosing, Jake Santos and Tyler Trombetta — will be shooting as a team for the highest goal Saturday: To return to Highland as state champs.
“The fire has been burning in these boys for a while,” Babbitt said. “They’re as good as any team in the state and they’re proving it. We’ve been preaching spares; the boys only missed about six easy spares in the five Baker games at semistate. I told them they have to bowl as a team and I really think all of them have taken that to heart.
“My juniors (Peters, Santos and Rosing) have also stepped up to be leaders. We first denied Hobart an undefeated season, and then we advance out of regionals and later beat Lake Central at semistate and win there. My assistant, Tony Miller, has been great helping the kids in where to play on the modified lane patterns.”
For the Trojans, the road to success really began to take shape at last month’s sectional, where they defeated Duneland Conference champ and rival Hobart in the championship for the first time all season.
“We’ve really come together as a team over the past couple weeks,” Batliner said. “About a month ago our coach gathered us together at Hobart said we need to really start bowling as a team if we’re going to make it out of sectionals. Since then, we’ve been clicking as a team.”
Despite falling short in the regional final against the Brickies, Highland used that setback as a stepping stone in preparation for what resulted in a history-making day in South Bend, where the team qualified second with 2,975 and then delivered in the big stepladder matches en route to the title.
“We’ve had trouble with Lake Central in the past,” Payne said. “But we felt really confident going against them last week after our string of Baker games. We’ve been practicing our spares a lot in practice and I know that has helped us.”
After the big win over the Indians, the team had to keep that balance of intensity and concentration against Northrop.
“We wanted to keep our intensity (in the final) and keep the strikes coming,” Rosing said. “And we did that. When we couldn’t strike, we picked up our spares. Winning semistate was a huge confidence boost. We have seven really good bowlers, but we’re still trying to get all of us going at the same time.
“We’re believing that it’s going happen Saturday. We’re all working toward the goal.”