The Grand Haven boys bowling team finished second at the class A state finals at Sunnybrook Lanes in Sterling Heights last Friday, but early on it looked like the Buccaneers might not even advance out of the qualifying round.
Grand Haven was as low as 15th at one point during the Baker games, and needed to finish in the top eight in order to advance to the match play finals.
Coach Pat Mitchell said he never lost hope.
"It was a little bit (nerve-wracking), but I know when the boys get focused they can do some pretty wonderful things," Mitchell said. "I never really was worried when we got into the state because I knew at some point the lanes were going to allow us to use our strategy to the fullest benefit."
That strategy revolved around making adjustments, which the Bucs do better than just about any other team in the state.
The lanes were reconditioned heading into the two regular games, and Grand Haven bowled the two highest scores of the entire tournament — a 1,089 and a 1,096. The scores allowed the Bucs to jump all the way to fifth, and guaranteed them a spot in the quarterfinals.
Grand Haven then took on U-D Jesuit in the finals, finally meeting it's match. The Bucs fell to the Cubs, 1409-1360.
It was U-D Jesuit's fourth straight state title and Grand Haven's first runner-up finish since 2006.
"Going into regular game we actually out-bowled them, but we had some difficulty carrying strikes off some good shots," Mitchell said. "We bowled a good game, and had some tremendous throws, but it was hard to put two strikes together in that match.
"We ground it out all the way to the end. We were fighting all the way. The pins just didn't fall our way, unfortunately that's just the way it goes."
Jimmy Mitchell places fourth as an individual
Grand Haven’s Jimmy Mitchell continued to bowl on Saturday for the state’s individual state championship.
Much like his team the day prior, Mitchell started off slow before getting on a roll.
In Game 5 he faltered a bit, bowling a 179. But Mitchell bounced back to the tune of nearly 100 more pins in Game 6, rolling a 277.
The freshman ended up finishing 14th, which qualified him for the head-to-head round.
Mitchell continued to advance after qualifying, defeating opponents from Wyoming and Saginaw Heritage on his way to a semifinals showdown with Hudsonville’s Alex Stillwell.
Stillwell had a 27-pin lead after the first game. Mitchell put the pressure on Stillwell in Game 2 with four strikes to start things off, but a split and a spare allowed his O-K Red foe to advance to the finals.
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