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Both the Schuylkill Valley High School boys’ and girls’ bowling teams will be in action Tuesday, Feb. 19 when the Berks League playoffs get underway with the quarterfinals.
Actually, just the boys’ team will be in action on Tuesday. The girls’ team won their division with a record of 34-2 and get a bye to the semifinals which take place on Thursday, Feb. 21 at Hiester Lanes.
It’s been an amazing season for the Lady Panthers, especially considering they’ve done it with only five bowlers. Nobody missed a match due to illness or bad grades. That’s not easy to do. Now all they have to do is to continue to bowl like they have all season when the playoffs start.
“The girls are looking forward to the playoffs and seem very relaxed,” said Schuylkill Valley Head Coach Dave Hause. “They know our oppenent will be a good one and they are ready to face a challenge.”
In the quarterfinals, Muhlenberg will take on Oley Valley, and Governor Mifflin will battle Hamburg. No matter who wins, the Lady Panthers will be facing a very tough opponent on Thursday.“There are some very good teams in Division 1 and we will probably face one of them in the semifinals,” said Coach Hause. “If we advance, we will probably face Wilson, which was undefeated in league play and had five girls in the top ten of the singles tournament. They are really good. Butanything can happen ina playoff. We narrowly missed beating this same Wilson team for the county championship last year.”
The girls are led by Kristen Keller who has an impressive season average of 201. Ashlin Long averages a 186 and she is followed close behind by Jaime Wilson with a 182 average. Sara Skorpinski is at 165 and Christine Steffy at 135.
There isn’t a standout star on this team. Any player could be the high scorer in any particular match. They will need to be at their best though if they want to win a league title, and that’s just what they’re aiming for.
“Our success this year has been picking each other up when someone was having an off day and coming through in the last frame of close games,” said Hause.
“The girls are looking forward to the playoffs and seem very relaxed. They know our oppenent will be a good one and they are ready to face a challenge.”
What will be the key to their title chances?
“The most important key is to make their spares,” said Hause. “They must make spares to stay in contention in our matches against some of the higher average teams. I repeat, spares, spares, spares. They hate when I tell them to make spares.”
The Schuylkill Valley boys will have a tougher road to the championship. The boys finished second in their division with a record of 27-9, behind first place Conrad Weiser (34-2). They will open the playoffs on Tuesday by playing the Division 1 third place team, Twin Valley, which finished 24-12.
“I’m pleased witht the progress of my team,” said Coach Hause. “We knew with the division realignments that Conrad Weiser would be a really good team and should win the division. We are delighted to be in second place and are anxious for the playoffs to start on Tuesday.”
If they are able to beat Twin Valley on Tuesday, their most like semifinal opponent will either be Weiser of Governor Mifflin (32-4). Either opponent will be tough to beat - but not impossible.
“Gov. Mifflin and Conrad Weiser are two top teams in the playoffs and will be difficult to beat, but in bowling you never know when an upset could occur,” said Hause. “I just hope that the boys make a good showing in the playoffs. I would be delighted to win another county championship.
“The morale is really high. These boys never quit and have a great deal of confidence which I hope carries over to the playoffs.”
The Panthers have three bowlers who have averages over 200 - Tyler Dautrich 215; Matt Keller, 202; and Ed Skorpinski, 202. Brian Bizmaier is at 191, and Alex Hoffman is at a 162 average.
“The biggest reason for the success they’ve had is bowling together as a team and encouraging each other to bowl well,” said Hause. “They just don’t quit.”
Nobody is under the illusion that the Panthers will roll to an championship. They will have to pull off a couple of upsets to do it. But the most important part of this is that they believe they can do it.
“I knew with the experience they brought back this year that they could be a contender for the division and the county championships,” said Hause. “I’m glad they had a great year regardless of how they do in the playoffs.