The McNary girls bowling team: Sierra Mo, KayLynn Hatfield, Brittney Kiser, Hannah Russell and Aneeka Stephen. (Submitted)

The McNary girls bowling team: Sierra Mo, KayLynn Hatfield, Brittney Kiser, Hannah Russell and Aneeka Stephen. (Submitted)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

After leading for most of the day at the district bowling tournament, the McNary High School girls bowling team hit its first snafu in the first game of the finals match.

“The whole day had been going really well. We were 300 points ahead of the second place team most of the day, and 500 points ahead of the last-place team,” said Lady Celt Hannah Russell.

It wasn’t until the Lady Celts had to sit out for a game while the second and third place teams competed that the girls began to lose a bit of steam.

“All we could do was sit and wait, and I think that’s what got into our heads,” said McNary’s Sierra Mo.

The Celtics finished two pins behind McKay High School, 168-166, in their first finals game, but stormed back to take the district championship with a score of 183-135 in the second game.

“We didn’t have as many strikes as we wanted, but spares make the game,” said senior KayLynn Hatfield.

Junior Brittney Kiser said the team spirit is what carried them through to the big finale.

“In past years, we’ve always had moments where we got down on each other. This time, we were just believing in each other all day long. I don’t know when we’ll have the chance to do something like that again,” Kiser said. “In the three district tournaments I’ve been to, this one felt the best.”

The boys finished third in a field of tough competition, but overall the Celts posted five All-Star bowlers who will get to compete in another tournament in March. For the boys, Scott Bridger and Nick Blythe earned All-Star status. Hatfield, Russell and Mo all qualified out of the girls team.

Kiser and freshman Aneeka Stephen are hoping to qualify when the girls head to the state competition February 21 and 22. That competition will be held at Salem’s Firebird Lanes.

Head Coach Kathy Kaplan said the team “went above and beyond” at the district tournament.

“In practice, we had some low scores of around 100, but I told them they need to be aggressive and practice like they would need to play at the district tournament. In the district competition, their low game was a 134 and their high was a 214,” Kaplan said.

She added that having Stephen practice with the team while she was still in middle school was a huge boon.

“I would love to have more middle schoolers come out and bowl with us during practices. It gets them used to the style of bowling we do and it was a huge advantage this year when Aneeka could join the team,” Kaplan said.