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Script flipped as Saxons rally to MSL title.

Byline: Bill Esbrook Daily Herald Correspondent

Turnabout was fair play in a big way Saturday for the Schaumburg girls bowling team in the Mid-Suburban League championship tournament.

Last season, the Saxons came into the tournament in first place after an undefeated regular conference season but were overtaken by Hoffman Estates at the tourney, with Hawks winning the overall title.

This year, the Saxons turned the tables.

Schaumburg came in to Saturday at Arlington Lanes in the runner-up position but staged a big rally to outpoint Hoffman 185-182 and win the championship.

The Saxons posted 3 team games over 1,000 -- 1,061, 1,027 and 1,006 -- in staging the comeback.

"It just feels good," said Schaumburg coach Mark Kelly. "I know the girls were pretty upset about losing it last year, and they made a goal this year that they were going to reclaim the championship."

Kylie Frick of the Saxons won the individual crown going away. Her season-long average of 206.282 was more than 6 pins ahead of nearest competitor, runner-up Alexis Orwat of Hoffman Estates (199.718).

The junior fired games of 254 and 223 Saturday enroute to a 6-game series of 1,236.

"It's amazing," said Frick. "I was finding it hard to control my emotions, they were all over the place. It's kind of just like a dream come true.

"It's really all about perseverance and trying to stay true to what you know you want to do."

It turned out to be a tough-luck meet for Hoffman Estates. The Hawks excelled at Arlington, posting a 1,046 team series and a 244 game from Allura Magsino, but fell just short.

The Hawks boasted the second, third and fourth top individual bowlers in the MSL -- Orwat was No. 2, Kelly Paradowski (193.641) No. 3 and Emilie St. Clair (191.769) No. 4.

Buffalo Grove rolled its way to third place overall, as Rebecca Howard (188.846) finished sixth individually. She produced a 258 game Saturday.

"I'm really proud that our team has come this far," said Howard. "If you look back at the first week of the season, we never would have imagined that we would have made it this far."

Freshman Sara Clay excelled for BG with games of 214 and 193.

"It's pretty amazing," said Clay. "I was so proud to be here with my teammates and all of my coaches."

Conant senior Krupa Patel shot one of the best games of the day, a 246 in the second game of the day, to lead the Cougars to a fourth-place finish.

Patel said her team has a strong bond, which led directly to its success on the lanes this year.

"My coaches are my mom and dad, and my teammates are my sisters," said Patel. "We're going to keep that bond forever.

"That 246 (today) was everything. I started the day with a really bad game and my teammates and coaches kept me up -- they basically helped me get that 246."

Jemma Skweres of Conant wound up with the sevent-place season-long medal with an average of 186.205; Jamie Knutsen of Elk Grove was eighth with 185.513; Magsino from Hoffman finished ninth overall (184.538); and Annie Durava of Hersey was 10th at 183.806.

Katie Byer led Prospect with her best-ever score of 224.

"I set a goal to shoot over 200 at the beginning of the year," said the sophomore, "and to do that today is a great way to finish out the season. I was throwing strikes and picking up spares, and it was a little nerve-wracking near the end when I realized I was close."

Byer left no doubt when she hit two strikes and a 9 in the 10th frame.

"Now we've just got to keep climbing the ladder," said the sophomore of the Knights' approach to the postseason, "and keep shooting in the 200s."

For the title-winning Saxons, both Gina Lenoci and Taylor Davis made clutch contributions.

Lenoci shot 5 games over 200 at Saturday's meet, with a high of 224, and she finished fifth in the league, posting an average of 190.154.

"We have worked so hard the entire year for this moment," said Lenoci. "At practice we work super hard with spares, and teamwork is what led us to achieve our goals.

"I try my best not to try too hard, know my talent, stick with it the entire day and just have my teammates pick me up. That gives me the motivation to do my best."

Saturday was a Cinderella story for Davis, a junior. She hadn't bowled in a varsity conference match the entire season, but was thrust into play on the biggest stage at Arlington due to the absence of one of the Saxons' starting five.

All Davis did Saturday was fire games of 234 and 227 and post a 1,160 series in a high-pressure situation.

"I was really nervous because I knew Hoffman is a tough competitor," said Davis of her standout day. "I just tried to bowl my heart out."

Davis said she knew the Saxons were neck-and-neck with the Hawks going into the final game of the day but tried not to think about it too much.

"Honestly, I was just trying to focus on my score, my game, our team," said Davis. "I'm just so proud to be a part of this team."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Esbrook, By Bill
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jan 28, 2018
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