By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School boys varsity bowling team not only won a district title Sunday, Jan. 24, they bowled a near-perfect game.
“The energy in the entire building changed once they started striking. There were spectators high-fiving each other,” said Scott Miller, the team’s assistant coach. The event was hosted by Linn Lanes in Lebanon.
Perfect games are a rare enough occurrence, they require a bowler to deliver 12 consecutive strikes that total 300 points when all is said and done.
Competitive high school bowling adds another twist. Five-person teams bowl baker-style meaning the first bowler will bowl frames one and six. The second bowler will bowl frames two and seven with the fifth bowler bowling frames five and 10.
With Celtics Jerome Ricks, Bailey Lee, Tim Kiser, Donny Grubough and Nick Blythe on the lane, McNary posted a game for the record books.
“We started several games with two or three strikes, but as the streak got longer and longer more and more people were paying attention,” said Dan Kaplan, McNary head coach.
In a single game of the semifinals, the Celtics had accumulated 11 strikes plus eight pins on the final ball for a grand total of 298.
“I was jumping up and down after every strike,” said Grubough.
“Everybody in the place stopped to watch us,” said Kiser.
“It was stadium-level loud,” added Blythe.
Grubough, Kiser and Blythe were all named all-stars of the tournament.
The almost-perfect effort was also the final act of a trilogy for McNary in the semifinal rounds. It capped a three-game series that began with scores of 262 and 224.
“It was the most incredible stretch I’ve ever seen in more than 20 years as a coach,” Kaplan said.
The Celtics’ road to the semifinals was no bed of roses.
“The first round is 22 games and we did okay. We had a lot of open frames and pins left hanging,” said Kaplan.
Grubough said everyone rallied after tough frames to keep it together.
“If someboy had a bad shot, we were all right there telling him it was all right,” Grubough said.
By the end of the preliminaries, the McNary team was second and had claimed a seat in the semifinals. In the semifinals, which consists of 10 games, all scores were reset and the Celts began bowling out of their minds.
At the end of 10 games, McNary was 321 pins ahead of the second place team.
The Celts ended up facing a team from McKay High School in the finals and won easily.
“McKay was intimidated and we bowled 211 our first game to their 138,” Kaplan said.
The Celts finished ahead 377-249 for the two finals games.
Blythe, a three-year veteran of the team whose already got several 300 games as a solo performer, said the experience was his most memorable yet.
“It was the most fun I’ve had in three years, and this is the best team I’ve ever been part of,” Blythe said.