Fab Five Leads Fayetteville State To CIAA Bowling Title
Fab Five Leads Fayetteville State To CIAA Bowling
Lady Broncos defeat Bowie State, 4-2, in Championship Match
DURHAM, N.C. - Fayetteville State Bowling Coach Bobby Henderson has his own version of the “Fab Five.”
|2011 CIAA Bowling
Fayetteville State University
|2011 All-Tournament Bowling Team:
Akira Turner, Fayetteville State - Tournament MVB;
Shanice Watkins, Elizabeth City State;
Sasha Thornhill, Johnson C. Smith;
Amber Slater, Virginia State;
Verra Diggs, Bowie State
Though no documentary has been made about them, this group of
supremely gifted bowlers know a thing or two about winning. On
Monday, the Lady Broncos went out and captured the 2011 CIAA
Women's Bowling Championship at AMF Durham Lanes. They did it
against teams that were deeper in numbers but the Lady Broncos had
just as much talent and heart.
The Lady Broncos clinched the title in the championship round with a 4-2 victory over Bowie State. Both teams were division winners during the regular season and the Lady Bulldogs were ranked 20th nationally by the National Tenpins Coaches Association. On this day, the Lady Broncos stepped up and outbowled the defending CIAA champions.
Led by regular-season and tournament most outstanding bowler Akira Turner, the Lady Bulldogs were undefeated in four double-elimination bracket matches including two victories over the Lady Bulldogs Monday. They also stopped Saint Augustine's College 4-0 and Saint Paul's 4-1 Sunday to kickstart their championship run through the bracket portion of the tournament.
“They were young but stuck together,” Henderson said about his girls. “That's what it's all about.”
What makes the title more special is the Lady Broncos won all year with no substitutes. They avoided injuries and survived illnesses to win their second league crown in four seasons. The key was Turner, the only player left from the 2007 championship team. The undisputed leader of the squad, Turner instilled confidence in her younger teammates.
Turner surely did her part to lead the team during matches. She bowled a season-high 200.28 scoring average during the regular season to spark the Lady Broncos to the CIAA Southern Division crown with a 56-7 overall record and 48-1 CIAA mark. Her play carried over in the Championships, where she averaged a tournament-best 199.17 score.
Her teammates followed the lead of Turner, the team's only senior. Four Lady Broncos made the All-CIAA team including Turner, Jamie Donnally, De'Andrea Bethea, and Kelly Wakerhauser. All four bowlers rank among the league's top 10 in averages. Wakerhauser is a junior, Donally is a sophomore and Bethea is a freshman.
During the season, several girls were under the weather during regular-season matches but missing games was no option.
“The girls still bowled,” Henderson said. “Scoring 80 or 90 points was better than zero points. Two girls bowled when they were sick and had their best weekends.”
Their play carried over in the tournament. The Lady Broncos earned the top seed in the double-elimination format after totaling the highest pin count following team match play and Baker's match play. All five players contributed mightily including freshman Daisy Weishman, who didn't make the All-CIAA team but turned in several clutch games.
In the last match, it was fitting that Turner finished off the Lady Bulldogs with two strikes to seal the championship.
“It is hard to win with five players,” Turner said. “I had to keep the team motivated [during the year]. Nobody said it took more than five to win a game.”
Turner capped an outstanding conference career with two league titles and two top individual awards. She was also named to the All-CIAA tournament team along with Verra Diggs of Bowie State, Amber Slater of Virginia State, Sasha Thornhill of Johnson C. Smith and Shanice Watkins of Elizabeth City State.
Diggs, who had the CIAA's second highest average (187.36) and bowled a perfect 300 game during the regular season, led a Lady Bulldog team intent on defending their CIAA title. The Lady Bulldogs fell short against the Lady Broncos this season, however.
“We didn't execute,” said BSU's Ken Scott, the CIAA coach of the year whose squad was 62-2 during the regular season including a 48-1 CIAA mark “We didn't do what we need to do and FSU had an excellent weekend. This does not diminish what we accomplished this season. I feel good where our program is at. We have an excellent program and we take pride in competing. We have great support from our AD, from [Senior Woman Administrator] Arlene Creek and the coaches.”
After losing to FSU 4-1 in their first match Monday, the Lady Bulldogs rebounded to beat Elizabeth City State 4-0 in the elimination bracket to advance to the final round against FSU. The Lady Vikings defeated Virginia State 4-0 and Saint Paul's 4-3 for the right to meet Bowie State. The Saint Paul's match was forced to go five extra frames due to a tie in the first game between both schools. Saint Paul's met ECSU after edging Winston-Salem State 4-3.
When the dust finally settled, a small but valiant group of Lady Broncos emerged on top tired but smiling.
“I am overwhelmed,” Turner said. “I was on a championship team in '07 and now I'm going out with a bang.”