By Josh Brown
TROY — After a convincing win in the Greater Western Ohio Conference preseason tournament and with the postseason one right around the corner, Troy girls bowling coach Rob Dever knows that winning out isn’t an absolute necessity.
But it sure would make life easier.
The Trojan girls (14-2, 7-2 GWOC North Division) bounced back from a disappointing loss at Butler earlier in the week, routing Sidney 2,371-1,885 Thursday at Troy Bowl to maintain its hold on the top spot in the division.
Piqua and Butler both entered the day with two division losses apiece, as well, but the Aviators knocked off the Indians to remain in a tie with the Trojans — with only two matches against winless Trotwood remaining. Troy, meanwhile, hosts rival Piqua Tuesday with a chance for revenge and can clinch a share of the regular season division title with a win.
“We still control our own destiny,” Dever said after Thursday’s win. “Even if we don’t win Tuesday, we’ll have a shot at the postseason tournament. But it’d be a lot easier to relax if we did.”
The Troy boys, meanwhile, had the chance to play spoiler against GWOC North-leading Sidney, which entered the day unbeaten in division play. The Trojans took the lead early and held a 27-pin advantage going into the final baker game, but the Yellow Jackets won that game 178-148 to escape with a division-clinching 2,375-2,372 victory.
“It was a very narrow loss, but the boys did really well,” Troy boys coach Doug Stone said. “It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to at the end.”
For Troy’s girls — who won their first 10 head-to-head matches of the season and have three tournament victories to their credit, also — experience is the key.
“I think what helps us in tournaments is our experience, especially our experience on bigger stages,” Dever said. “The girls understand how to perform under that pressure when there’s a lot of people there watching. That’s what helps us most.”
And in front of their home crowd Thursday, the Trojan girls put on a show — particularly senior Rachel Darrow.
Darrow, who posted the best individual score of any boy or girl at the preseason GWOC tournament, rolled a 233-199—432 to lead the way. She finished the first individual game with six straight strikes to give the Trojans a 144-pin lead, and they never looked back.
But she wasn’t alone. Jenna Stone also broke the 400 mark, rolling 223-190—413, and A’leigha Smith was close to that mark with 188-205—393. Kristen McMullen added 169-190—359, Cassidy McMullen rolled a 225 game and Jennica Funderburg added a 152.
“The girls all bowled really well today,” Dever said. “We shot over 1,000 in the second game with all four girls at 190 or better. That’s some pretty solid team bowling.”
And that’s how the Trojans have done it all season long, with any bowler capable of leading the team in scoring on any given day.
“To be a successful team, you have to have that,” Dever said. “If you’re relying on only one or two bowlers all the time, if they have a bad day, then you’re in trouble. It’s a team game and a team score, and we preach that to the girls all the time.
That was evident during the baker games, too, as Troy’s girls posted a 219 in the first one — the best baker game on the day by all four teams.
Jenna Beatty was the only Sidney girls bowler to top the 300 mark on the day, rolling 174-167—341 to lead the Jackets (9-7, 4-4 GWOC North).
The boys match, on the other hand, couldn’t have been closer.
Troy (7-10, 5-4 GWOC North) took a 997-920 lead after the first game, but Sidney made up 50 pins in the second game to close to within 2,023-1,996. Both teams bowled a 201 in the first baker game, but Sidney won the final one by 30 pins to steal the win.
Even so, it was a big step forward for the Trojan boys — which lost to Sidney by more than 400 pins in the first meeting between the teams this season.
“I called all the kids down after and said I can take this,” Stone said. “It is (a young team). We don’t have any seniors, and we only have two juniors. They all did really well, and I was happy with the way everyone bowled. (It came down to) practice, and picking up our spares. That was the biggest difference today.”
Aaron Stone led the Troy boys, rolling 233-214—447, with Hayden Jackson also topping 400 with 203-224—427. Jason Shiltz rolled 213-173—386, A.J. Kendall rolled 194-182—376, Logan Jones added a 233 game and Landon Flory added a 154.
Austin Simon led the Jackets with 204-235—439 and second-game substitute Josh Abbott posted the high game on the day with a 255.
The Trojans host Piqua Tuesday in the final tuneup before the GWOC postseason tournament Feb. 13 at Beaver-Vu Bowl.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.