St. Clair Lanes hosts Eastern District Saturday

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — St. Clair Lanes will be the epicenter of area prep bowling activity Saturday as the venerable Belmont County bowling house plays host to the OHSAA Eastern District Tournament.

Twenty boys teams and 19 girls squads are gathering with hopes of advancing to next Friday’s district tournament at Chillicothe’s Shawnee Lanes.

Balls will begin rolling at 10 a.m. with girls’ action, followed by boys’ competition at about 2 p.m.

”Our whole area has really grown,” St. Clairsville head coach Mike Heath noted. ”Our local teams, every one is way better than they were in November.”

The most-talked about topic amongst coaches is how many will advance out of this sectional. Six boys and six girls teams will advance to Chillcothe, with six individuals not on qualifying teams moving on, too. It’s the most that have ever advanced from the East District and, Union Local head coach Ron Taylor believes, it’s another sign of the sport’s growth in this part of the state.

”I think it’s really going to beneficial for our local teams,” he said.

St. Clairsville and UL will be part of the local contingent competing, along with Barnesville, East Richland Christian, Harrison Central, Martins Ferry, Buckeye Local, Bridgeport and St. John.

Other schools bowling include: Beaver Local, East Liverpool, Carrollton (boys), Claymont, Garaway, Indian Valley, Maysville, Minerva, Morgan, Sandy Valley and Tuscrawas CC.

Both Heath and Taylor see East Liverpool, Maysville and Minerva as teams from outside the area as squads to watch.

”It should be very interesting,” Taylor said.

The Potters won the Buckeye 8 Championship at St. Clair Lanes last month with Union Local second.

”We’ve had a really good year for being as young as we are,” Taylor said of his squad. ”The last couple of practices we’ve had several of them step up big time.”

Ian Alexander finished first at Buckeye 8s, earned all-conference honors with teammate Alberto Dunlap. Taylor expects both of them to contend for district berths Saturday, along with other team members.

”I’m excited about it,” Taylor said, pointing out the parity on his team. ”I think we’re finally to the point now where they can show what they can do. I’m planning on going to the next step.”

St. Clairsville’s Ben Lucas and Martins Ferry’s Codey Morrison are other individuals to watch.

St. Clairsville’s girls won the Buckeye 8 crown and lead a large group of area hopefuls.

”I think we’re going to make some noise,” Heath said. ”We really haven’t bowled to our potential yet.

”We haven’t talked about individuals, we’re focused on the team mantra this year. Every member of our team has a realistic chance.”

Katie Patrizi and Annelise Dumas achieved all-Buckeye 8 last month for the Red Devils, as did Harrison Central’s Cassie Kuhn and Addie Edwards.

The Huskies halted St. C.’s two-year match winning streak and Heath is high in Harrison Central’s chances.

”They’ve bowled really well and they’re very capable,” he said. I look for them and even Barnesville to make noise.

”This is really a great opportunity for our local bowling league to really advance to the next level. The opportunity is there, but the kids have to go out and perform, and that’s how it should be.”