Oil patterns can make or break your day at the alley.
A difficult oil pattern at Buckeye Lanes threatened to derail the Saint Ignatius varsity team, but the Wildcats adjusted and fought to a victory.
The Alley Cats clawed their way to a win over Garfield Heights on Saturday morning, taking two of three games and splitting the two baker games with the Bulldogs.
"Today was the Sunset Strip pattern, which is something we'll see in Sectionals," said Head Bowling Coach Jim Viets. "The oil pattern will be tough in the Sectionals. We had the house shot at Spins Bowl in Independence, an easy place to bowl in. The sport shots are what we'll see in tournaments and in the postseason. We need to make spares. That's how you advance in Sectionals."
The Wildcats converted some spares in the first, but did not do well in that department in the second game, and that decided both contests.
In the first game, the Alley Cats performed well. Vinny Doran led the way with a 189, with Dylan Huss nipping at his heels with a 183. Ryan Wallenhorst tossed a 119, while Alex and Ben Gehrlein combined for 129 and Alex Madeja and Noah Virant teamed up for a 122. As a team, the Wildcats tallied a 742, easily besting the Bulldogs' team total of 670.
On the flipside, the Wildcats missed many spares in the second. Ben Gehrlein topped the team with a 160 and Huss knocked down a 158, but the Alley Cats only managed a score of 708. Entering the third game, Viets talked to his team and helped his keglers make adjustments.
"You need to read the lane and see what your ball is doing," Viets said after the contest. "You gotta make sure you're coming through and making a good, quality shot so we know how to move you on the lane and to read the oil pattern. Today, the pattern was gutter to gutter for 40 feet, but it tapered, so the middle was dry. So you have to get the ball to a breakpoint so you can get it to the pocket. That's what these guys have to try to figure out.
"We can help them, but they have to learn how to adjust themselves," Viets continued. "They won't be able to ask us on every throw, 'Coach, where do you want me to go?' You have to move, too. You have to learn to see what your ball is doing so you know where to move to. I have to know when and how to adjust boards. It's coaching them and getting them to the point where they have the confidence to say, 'Hey, I threw a good shot, but it didn't move, so I need to move a little to the right.' Or, 'The ball is coming too hard, so I can move left so it comes in at a better angle.'"
As Viets instructed, the Wildcats began to adjust in the third. Several members of the Alley Cats enjoyed better games in the third. Doran tabbed a 166, an improvement of 26 pins from the second game. Wallenhorst rallied with an impressive pinfall of 159. Huss stayed strong with a 152, as Madeja posted a 129. Virant and Gehrlein rounded out the squad by combining for a 125, as Virant entered and immediately tossed a spare and a strike.
The Alley Cats walked away with a hard-earned 731-669 victory in the third game, leading in overall pinfall entering the two bakers.
In the first baker game, the Wildcats experienced trouble again with the oil pattern and establishing momentum. As a match continues, the oil can spread in strange ways, something the Wildcats had to contend with. The Alley Cats stumbled to a loss in the first contest, 139-124, despite a late comeback effort.
The second baker proved to be much different. The Wildcats came together for an improved effort in the second contest, hitting spares and knocking down some strikes, leading to fun "OLE, OLE, OLE!" chants from the rest of the team. Thanks to clutch efforts in the end, including a strike by Doran, the Wildcats hung on for a 136-121 win.
When the scoresheet was finalized, the Alley Cats secured a 2,181-2,081 pinfall advantage for the OHSAA point. The men of Ohio City won five of seven scratch points, along with a couple handicap points.
With the victory, the Wildcats advance to 4-5 on the season entering a regular-season finale matchup with Lakewood next week. The Sectional Tournament also looms large just over a month away.
"We're looking forward to Sectionals coming up," Viets said. "We'll try to improve as we get there."
On the JV side, the Wildcats fell to a tough Olmsted Falls team.
The JV Cats lost all seven scratch points, despite battling hard. The Bulldogs won all three games, 639-537, 722-519, 609-546, as well as the bakers (168-113 and 114-111).
Mason Cook guided the JV Cats in the contest, tallying a 410 series. Andrew Fornadel marked a 335 series in the scorebook as the only other Cat to bowl all three games. Sean Ward (226 series), Andrew Metz (222), and Alex Vacca (172) all bowled two games for the blue and gold. Gabe Virant (59) also made an appearance.
The JV Cats wrap up the regular season against Westlake next week.