Aberdeen blanks Capital, 5-0, in girls bowling season finale

A little momentum doesn’t hurt, especially for a first-year program like Aberdeen against Capital at home and for the upcoming district tournament next week.

Starting with three straight strikes — aka a turkey — from Meghan Howell in the first game and pushed by consistent scoring from all five varsity bowlers, the Bobcats finished their regular season on Thursday with a 5-0 dual meet win over Capital at Rainier Lanes.

Three AHS regular-season scoring marks were set on Thursday, giving the Bobcat bowlers goals to aim for in future seasons and momentum entering the District IV 2A bowling tournament in Vancouver on Jan. 27.

“The girls are peaking,” AHS head coach David Bruncke said. “We’ve been moving up, but we dropped a bit at mid-season and the girls responded by picking it back up. They’ve progressed and improved all year. It showed today.”

With the AHS coaching staff looking over at each bowler’s performances to determine who’ll head to Vancouver next week, the five varsity Bobcats — Howell, Iliana Mercado-George, Ambar Morales, Sydni Tingwall and Tayler Housden — produced.

To start the first five-bowler game of the day, Howell rolled three consecutive strikes to start for Aberdeen. Howell’s three-strike start was followed by three spares from Mercado-George, two spares from Housden and solo strikes from Tingwall and Morales.

The hot start gave the hosts a 227-137 lead after the first three frames and they never looked back. Howell finished with four strikes and five overall marks for a 155, which was surpassed by an AHS single-game high of 161 by Morales. Morales marked the final four frames, including back-to-back strikes, to finish the game.

Aberdeen won the first game with its highest game total of the season, 671-501.

“I put a lot of pressure on the girls (on Wednesday) by saying that I didn’t know who was going to districts,” Bruncke said. “I knew that there were so many of them so close to each other, it was going to be tough. So, whoever bowled well in the next two days would go (to district). We got the two best days of bowling all year. I wanted to put the pressure on them and they’ve shined.”

In the second game, both teams were close to each other to start, but Aberdeen finished strong in the second half of the game — 15 of its 22 game marks came in the sixth frame on. Howell finished the strongest, getting four marks in the final four frames, including a strike-strike-spare finish in the ninth and 10th frames, to lead the Bobcats with a varsity career-high 160. Howell finished with a 315 two-game series, which is the highest series for Aberdeen this season.

“I was like one of the worst bowlers on the team to start the season,” Howell said. “I’ve been improving and getting better as the season has gone on. It was easier (today) being here at home. We’re all growing as a team and it has been a lot of fun.”

“Megan and Illiana each have improved by more than 50 pins this season,” Bruncke added. “Everyone on the team has improved. It has been so much fun watching them learn how to bowl and practice. Everyone has moved up.”

After a rough finish to the first Baker game for Aberdeen, which it held on for a 104-94 win, the Bobcats hit marks on five of the first six frames — including a strike from Mercado-George — to run away with a 130-103 win to seal the dual meet sweep.

For Bruncke and the Bobcats, Thursday’s dual meet was a fitting regular-season finish for them and a benchmark in a season that began when the Aberdeen School District Board approved the team for competition in September. Aberdeen competed in a partial schedule this season and will have a full schedule of dual meets in the fall.

“It has been a huge improvement all year,” Bruncke said. “The girls have really gotten into this — they bought their own balls and shoes, they bring their families along to practice with them and some practice a lot more than just the team practice. It has been so much fun to watch.”

Bobcats 1,509, Capital 1,255

Game 1: Aberdeen (671) — Sydni Tingwall 105, Iliana Mercado-George 122, Ambar Morales 161, Meghan Howell 155, Tayler Housden 128. Capital (501) — Aimee Eytinge 80, Anna Richardson 103, Heather Nguyen 84, Chloe Lineberry 114, Tiffany Rhodes 120.

Game 2: Aberdeen (604) — Sydni Tingwall 118, Iliana Mercado-George 109, Ambar Morales 87, Meghan Howell 160, Tayler Housden 130. Capital (557) — Aimee Eytinge 105, Anna Richardson 112, Heather Nguyen 113, Chloe Lineberry 86, Tiffany Rhodes 141.

Baker Game 1 — Aberdeen 104, Capital 94. Baker Game 2 — Aberdeen 130, Capital 103.

Aberdeen blanks Capital, 5-0, in girls bowling season finale
Aberdeen blanks Capital, 5-0, in girls bowling season finale