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Bowling: Boone Grove edges Lake Central for girls state title

Boone Grove coaches Mike Kraushaar Matt Steinhilber raise their hands celebratiafter their team wIndianHigh School Bowling girls state title Saturday

Boone Grove coaches Mike Kraushaar and Matt Steinhilber raise their hands in celebration after their team won the Indiana High School Bowling girls state title on Saturday at Arrowhead Bowl in Lafayette. | Steve T. Gorches~Post-Tribune

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Updated: March 18, 2013 7:15AM



LAFAYETTE — The “little school that could” turned into a big bunch of excited state champs on Saturday at Arrowhead Bowl in Lafayette.

No more debating who the best girls bowling team is in Northwest Indiana in a season that saw big schools Portage, Lake Central and Highland trade tournament wins with small Boone Grove in the mix.

On Saturday with the bright lights of a taped TV final and pressure of being the best, Boone Grove came through when it counted against a school six times its size in the final.

Boone Grove finished off a memorable season by edging Lake Central 315-304 in the championship match for the school’s first athletic state title.

“I don’t know what to say — I’m still in shock,” Boone coach Mike Kraushaar said, before composing himself a couple seconds later. “The girls stepped up big time. What a way for five seniors to go out.”

One of those seniors was anchor Paige Kraushaar, who also finished sixth in singles earlier in the day.

“It’s frickin’ awesome,” she said. “This so much better than (possibly winning) individually … so much better.”

Like every other championship in an entertaining state finals, the girls title came down to the last frame and one ball from an understandably nervous teenager — who wouldn’t be on the big stage. LC anchor Kelly Belzeski left a washout (1-2-4-10) while Boone’s anchor, Paige Kraushaar, left a 2-10 split. Belzeski needed to pick it up, but she left two pins, and Boone survived like they did most of the did.

“We bowled terrible in regular Bakers, but they weathered the storm and came through,” Mike Kraushaar said.

To say Boone and LC were familiar with each other is a huge understatement. It was the fourth time the teams faced this season in a tourney. The Indians beat the Wolves in the Baker Tournament; Boone beat LC in the Boone Grove Invite; LC won in the semifinals of the Region Rumble. But none was bigger than Saturday’s grind-out victory by the little school that could.

“I knew we were going to make it to state, but it’s a reality check to finally win it,” Boone senior Angelique McKeny said.

“This is scary good — it’s amazing,” said fellow senior Haley Steinhilber. “I kept saying (the TV cameras) weren’t there and just focus on bowling.”

The Indians earned the top seed after qualifying, leading to coach Stephanie Cooley saying, “the LC of old has made an appearance.” But instead of bringing home the program’s fourth state title, it was the second time finishing runner-up (2006).

“I wasn’t sure what to expect today,” Cooley said. “The TV pair was a little tighter and there were a little nerves, a little more pressure. But I’m still proud of them; it was an awesome finish.”



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