Prep bowling playoffs begin Monday in Houma

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Jesuit Bowling
(Photo: Bill Arthurs)

Forty-eight boys and girls bowling teams still have hopes alive for state championships as the LHSAA playoffs begin Monday at Creole Lanes in Houma and continue Tuesday at AMF All Star Lanes in Kenner and Wednesday at All Star Lanes in Baton Rouge.

By Wednesday evening, early round action in the boys/co-ed and girls brackets will have narrowed the hopefuls down to eight.

Here’s a preview of what’s to come this week as the fields are trimmed to four boys and four girls teams, who will face off April 26 in the semifinals and finals at Premier Lanes in Gonzales.

Monday – Boys Lower Bracket – Houma

No. 2 boys seed Central Lafourche (12-0) has not only one of two undefeated regular-season records, but the home lanes advantage. Their quarter of the bracket, however, includes a pair of state tournament-tested teams.

The Trojans are prohibitive favorites against Baton Rouge (6-6) in the opening round, and then would face either St. Paul’s (10-2) or regional rival South Terrebonne (9-3) in the second round. Central Lafourche defeated South Terrebonne 21-6 on Feb. 8.

A potential quarterfinal matching Central Lafourche and No. 7 seed Central of Baton Rouge (11-1) – the top seed in both 2019 and 2020 – would certainly be juicy, but the Wildcats would have to get past either Denham Springs (10-2) or Archbishop Rummel (8-4) in the second round.

The matchup between the No. 23 seed Raiders and No. 10 seed Yellow Jackets – a rematch of a March 11 meeting in Gonzales won by Denham 23-4 – could be the best of any first-round matchup in the boys bracket. Denham Springs had a regular-season team average of 1,062, 34 pins better than Rummel’s 1,028.

Two years ago, in the last LHSAA bowling championship (the 2020 event was canceled because of COVID-19), Rummel ended Central’s season with a win in the semifinals in Baton Rouge. That Raider team made a run to the championship match as a No. 21 seed, beating three top-five seeds along the way.

The other quarter of the bracket in Houma is wide open. No. 3 seed Teurlings Catholic (11-1) is in tough for its first-round matchup with 30th-seeded Patrick Taylor (7-5), which has a 20-pin edge at each of the six spots in the lineup.

Based on individual and team averages, Patrick Taylor would also have an advantage against the winner of the 14-19 matchup between Byrd (10-2) and Acadiana (9-3).

Sixth-seeded East Ascension (11-1), a co-ed team with three girls in its starting lineup, surrenders home-lanes advantage to No. 27 seed Ellender (8-4) in the opening round, but the Spartans’ depth, with five bowlers averaging 170 or higher, provides an advantage. EA will have that same advantage in the second round against either David Thibodaux (10-2) or Loranger (8-4).

If Patrick Taylor and East Ascension meet in the quarterfinals, their team averages are separated by just seven pins. A Tigers victory could make them the Cinderella story of the semifinals, while the Spartans would be looking to get back home.

Tuesday – Boys Upper Bracket – Kenner

Catholic High (12-0) handed Brother Martin and Central their only losses during the regular season en route to earning the top seed in the boys bracket, but it will be no cakewalk to Gonzales for the Bears.

Nine teams besides Catholic averaged 1,050 or higher during the regular season, and three of those nine are in the Bears’ quarter of the bracket – No. 8 seed Vandebilt Catholic (10-2), ninth-seeded Dutchtown (10-2) and No. 16 seed H.L. Bourgeois (9-3).

All four will be favored to move on to the second round, though Dutchtown’s matchup with Ponchatoula will produce the best individual matchup when the Green Wave’s Austin Martin, who posted the state’s highest average this season at 231, faces the Griffins’ Preston West, a freshman who averaged 214.

A Catholic-Dutchtown quarterfinal would be a rematch of a Feb. 10 matchup in Baton Rouge, won by the Bears 19-8.

In the other quarter of the bracket, Captain Shreve (11-1) is the highest seeded team at No. 4, but all eyes will be on a potential second-round matchup between the two highest average teams in the state in fifth-seeded Brother Martin (11-1) and No. 12 seed Jesuit (10-2).

Brother Martin – which has won four of the last five boys state titles – will be a prohibitive favorite over St. Michael (8-4) in the opening round, as will Jesuit against Holy Savior Menard (10-1).

The Crusaders defeated the Blue Jays 21-6 on March 22 in a match broadcast by Crescent City Sports from Brother Martin’s home center, Colonial Lanes. The last time these two teams met at AMF in January 2020, the Crusaders rolled a state-record 4,012 series en route to a 20-7 victory.

Captain Shreve’s opening-round opponent, No. 29 seed Archbishop Shaw (7-5), has a 20-pin advantage at the second through fifth positions in the lineup. If the Eagles pull the seed upset, their depth would also give them an advantage over their two potential second-round opponents, Hammond and Lafayette.

If Shaw can reach the quarterfinals, it would likely have the opportunity to turn the tables on one of its New Orleans area rivals. Brother Martin defeated the Eagles 21-6 on Feb. 1, while Jesuit knocked off Shaw 24-3 on March 1.

Wednesday – Girls Early Rounds – Baton Rouge

Only three girls teams made it through the regular-season undefeated in Louisiana: top-seeded Central Lafourche, second-seeded Archbishop Chapelle and No. 3 seed St. Amant, all 12-0.

In addition to their perfect records, the Trojans, Chipmunks and Gators are also the three top average teams in the state. Chapelle’s 999 average was more than 100 pins ahead of the others.

Chapelle’s significant depth – five bowlers averaging 160 or higher – gives it a huge advantage over its opening-round opponent, Ellender, and its two potential second-round opponents, South Terrebonne and Loyola Prep.

Central Lafourche should have no trouble with Byrd in the opening round, but things will be slightly tougher against the survivor of the 8-9 matchup between Holden and Central, a matchup that could be as tight as the seedings suggest.

If St. Amant gets past Houma Christian as expected in the opening round, either Lafayette or Albany awaits in the quarterfinals – two teams against which the Gators would hold at least an 80-pin edge in average.

The other quarter of the bracket is the most wide open. No. 4 seed St. Scholastica (9-3), No. 5 seed Dutchtown (10-2) and 12th-seeded Academy of Our Lady (7-5), winner of the 2018 and 2019 state titles, all have team averages between 800-840.

SSA faces Teurlings Catholic in the first round while Dutchtown and AOL face off.

In the 16-team girls bracket, the early-round schedule only requires two wins to reach the semifinals.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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