The next step in the teams’ progress will depend on how well they fine-tune some particular skills throughout the course of the regular season. Despite not putting together a stellar performance during the Baker games, the Bucs boys’ team cruised to a 29-1 win over O-K Red conference foe East Kentwood on Monday at Starlite Lanes in Grand Haven.
“It wasn’t our best overall performance, but that just gives us something to work on at practice,” said Grand Haven boys coach Pat Mitchell. “I’d like to see us improve our spare shooting. When you’re dealing with younger bowlers, it’s really about getting that thought process going and staying consistent with it.
“Sometimes it’s easy to lose focus and you can go a little brain dead after awhile. (When that happens) you don’t think things through, or you don’t pay attention to the things you should be, and then the next thing you know — it effects your score and the team’s score.”
Brennan Batka recorded a 257 in the second regular game to lead the Bucs, while A.J. Perrier rolled a 246 in the first regular game.
“Brennan Batka has been throwing the ball well lately,” Mitchell said. “He’s back in the starting lineup now. Joel (Collins) has been bowling well. Kieran (Loughrin) and Logan (Batka) have been bowling well too.
“There’s always stuff to work on and always room to improve. We worked on spare shooting after the Grandville match a few weeks ago and we’ll continue working on that. We’ll take this in stride. I’m not too worried about the team, because they know when to turn it on and they will when it matters most.”
Mitchell believes his coaching philosophy helps his young bowlers relax more when they are out on the lanes.
“My specialty (as a coach) is what happens when the ball hits the lane,” Mitchell said. “I want them to work on their releases and techniques. That gives them a little bit of an advantage and ability to not focus so much on what happens on the approach.
“I think a lot of young bowlers focus too much on their approach to the lane and then they don’t make adjustments to how the lane is being played. After that, they start to think it’s on them and they get too mechanical and robotic instead of keeping their motion smooth and easy.”
“As a team, I thought things went great,” Grand Haven senior Joel Collins said. “Spares were pretty weak, but overall I thought we shot pretty well. We wanted to come into this match focused and take it seriously, so we could work on some things.”
Collins started the season off with an excellent preseason performance, but knows he knows he can’t rest on his laurels in his final high school season.
“I led during preseason, but I’ve seen better days lately,” Collins said. “I still need to work on my spare shooting and focusing on my shot every attempt. Coach Mitchell works with us every practice on that and I think it’s really paid off. We just have to stay in the right mindset and good things will happen.”
The Grand Haven girls’ team also put together a strong finish, taking all 10 Baker game points and 18 of 20 regular game points, for a 28-2 win over East Kentwood.
“The girls bowled well for the most part,” said Grand Haven girls coach Angela Mitchell. “We had some bumps along the course of the match that we’ll have to iron out, but overall they did a nice job. “
Breanna Olthof rolled a 205 in the second regular game to lead the Bucs, while Becca Hatinger added a 201 in the second regular game.
When asked what her team needs to improve in order to take the next step, she echoed a similar skill set to the boys’ team.
“It’s always spares,” said Mitchell. “Strikes are nice, but spares make all the difference. Megan Batka had some decent games, (Becca) Hatinger had a 201 game and (Breanna) Olthoff had a 205 game.
“They had some ups and downs, but they finished the regular games pretty strong.”
Both teams will be in action again on Wednesday as they travel to take on Grandville at 3:30 p.m.