When the going gets tough, the tough get ugly?
That could be the new catch phrase for region high school bowlers advancing to Saturday’s South Bend Regional at Chippewa Bowl.
To say the oil pattern for the sectional was tough is an insult to the word tough. It was tougher than tough, and take that from this former Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) member and 2011 Lakeshore Bowling Association Men’s Bowler of the Year.
I like it tough. Easy lane conditions in league play are for the faint of heart. Give me a good old-fashioned PBA sport shot that pushes my brain to the brink of aneurism any day of the week.
And most of the local high school coaches feel the same way. It was just a matter of getting the art of grinding out a shot across to the kids.
The best coaching job might have been from La Porte’s Keith Gakle, who has led the boys team this season, but actually went back to his girls’ team roots to coach Alyssa Foster in the Lakeshore Sectional singles event last Saturday at Cressmoor Lanes in Hobart.
Like most of the participants, she was struggling on a shot that wasn’t easy.
“It was outrageous,” Gakle said of the oil pattern. “If you missed right, the ball stayed right. If you missed left, it screamed left.”
So he gave Foster some valuable, yet unorthodox advice early in her set.
“Sometimes bowling ugly is bowling good, so I told Alyssa to go Brooklyn,” he said, referring to crossing over to the opposite side of the headpin since it was so difficult to hit her own pocket.
Voila! It worked as she shot a 536 series — modest, but more than enough to advance on a low-scoring day. Only one bowler — girl or boy — rolled a 600 series, and that was Portage’s Makayla Himden. No boy was able to handle the tough condition well with only two series above 570 (Portage’s Austin Trent and Chesterton’s Austin Anderson).
Still, four La Porte boys were able to follow Foster to regional as Tyler Swedersky, Zoren Baker, Kole Matzke and Steven Suroweic are headed to South Bend, along with Michigan City’s Braxton Hervey and Westville’s Tyler Wickersham.
City’s Megan Grams and South Central’s Savanah Becker join Foster at the regional, while the Wolves’ boys team will also be there after winning the team title last Friday.
The lanes at the other Northwest Indiana sectional sites were just as tough. The highest series at either of the other sectionals — Greater Lake County at Stardust Bowl III in Dyer and Quad County at Country Lanes in Lowell — was 647 by Andrean’s Kevin McCune, who averaged more than 230 per game in the regular season.
The low scores include the Michiana West Sectional in which the New Prairie girls team won, and Cougar bowler Ashlyn Kopinski was the top singles qualifier and als won the title. She shot 563 for the top girls score, while only one boy topped 600 in singles. New Prairie's Eric Bailey also advanced with 553.
Hopefully, Chippewa Bowl will be just a little less difficult — but not too much. It’s like the U.S. Open in golf when the best in the world struggle to shoot par. The tougher the better so you earn it. And if it’s too tough, just go Brooklyn.
• Way to go Yogi: Most Indiana basketball fans remember Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell. The 23-year-old played at Park Tudor High School — I covered him in the IHSAA state finals three times from 2010 through 2012 — before heading to Indiana University. Park Tudor lost to Wheeler in the 2010 Class 2A final, then defeated Hammond Bishop Noll in 2011 and Bowman Academy (Gary) in 2012. In that last game, the 6-foot point guard recorded a state final record 12 assists.
In a past newspaper life, I wrote a column insinuating he wouldn’t be a great college player when he signed with Indiana University. One reason was that I still insist that 6-foot height is bogus. I stood next to him and we were virtually eye-to-eye, and I’ve never been taller than 5-10 (and that was back in my really younger days before gravity and age has taken its toll).
At Indiana, he was a very good college player, but not great, per se. Alas, he went unpicked in last year’s NBA Draft, joining the Brooklyn Nets in the summer league.
Yogi made his NBA debut last week for the Dallas Mavericks after signing a 10-day contract, and after his first three games, I think he’ll be sticking around.
In his first game, he has nine points and seven assists in 36 minutes as a fill-in starter, and also hit two clutch free throws with 7.3 seconds left in a 105-101 victory over the San Antonio Spurs — not too shabby of an opponent to start off with. Next up was another tough team in the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and he was even better with 19 points in a 104-97 win. On Wednesday, Ferrell had 11 points and five assists in 38 minutes in a 113-95 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
I’d say he deserves to be in the NBA and I stand corrected — though that would still be standing about as tall as the undersized Ferrell.
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.