Fayetteville State Repeats As CIAA Women's Bowling Champion
DURHAM, N.C. - Head Coach Bobby Henderson of Fayetteville State
wanted his team to make an emphatic statement early in the finals
of the CIAA Women?s Bowling Championships on Monday.
Henderson got his wish. The Lady Broncos set the tone with an eye-opening performance in the first game of the best-of-seven Baker title match, and they went on to sweep Virginia State 4-0 for their third CIAA crown in five years. The Lady Broncos are the league champions for the second consecutive year. Virginia State needed to win twice over the Lady Broncos in the double-elimination bracket format to capture the league crown.
The Lady Broncos were dominant from the start. They routed the Lady Trojans 224-146 in the first game of the championship match. The 224 points was the highest single-game Baker match score in the tournament. The Lady Broncos rolled six strikes and three spares in 10 frames including two strikes by All-CIAA bowler Crystal Mujica.
"The key is to win the first game," said Henderson, the CIAA coach of the year. "When the girls rolled over 200 that shook [Virginia State] up and we were pumped up." The victory in the first game seemed to energize the Lady Broncos and demoralize the Lady Trojans. All-CIAA bowler De'Andrea Beathea recorded a strike and spare and Daisy Weishman rolled two spares to spark the Lady Broncos to a 159-145 victory in the second game. Beathea had two spares and Mujica bowled a strike and spare to lead the Lady Broncos to a 173-146 win in the third game.
The Lady Trojans, coming off a 4-3 win over Bowie State to reach the final round, struggled from the outset. They failed to get either a spare or strike in 14 out of 30 frames combined in the first three games. The Lady Trojans finally came to life in the fourth game after a line-up change. They started with four straight spares to open a 72-52 lead after the fourth frame. Their fortunes changed in the fifth frame as they failed to get a spare in three straight frames. It allowed the Lady Broncos to pull within 136-129 heading into the 10th frame.
The Lady Trojans knocked down nine pins in the 10th frame but missed the No. 6 pin on the second throw which could have clinched the game. Kiara Reid, the tournament most valuable bowler, capitalized for the Lady Broncos by earning a spare on the 10th frame and knocking down seven pins on her third throw in the same frame to give the Lady Broncos a 146-145 win for the championship. The victory set off a celebration among the bowlers and Coach Henderson.
The CIAA crown completed a strong run this season by the Lady Broncos, who featured three new bowlers. During the regular season, the Lady Broncos won the Southern Division championship, which is their 11th divisional crown in 12 years. At the CIAA Championships, the Lady Broncos earned the No. 1 seed in bracket play with 6,375 total pins in team matches and Baker matches on Saturday and Sunday.
The Lady Broncos were unstoppable in double-elimination bracket play, winning four matches in a row. Henderson says the Lady Broncos were deeper than last season when their roster consisted of five bowlers. There were seven bowlers on their rosters this season.
"The team was a lot more balanced," Henderson said. "We were able to sub with two freshmen. We were a lot fresher." Ironically, one of the former players fired up the Lady Broncos before the finals match. Akira Turner, last year's tournament most valuable bowler, talked to the girls via conference call.
"She said if you want it, go get it," said Kelly Wakerhauser, referring to the championship.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Ronald Simms, Jr. was extremely proud of the Lady Trojans, who finished third in the Northern Division during the regular season and earned a No. 4 seed in bracket play. The Lady Trojans battled through the losers' bracket Monday to earn a spot opposite the Lady Broncos in the finals.
"I am more than proud of these girls," Simms Jr. said. "They came a long way. They went half the season without a coach and for them to stay together and fight through adversity; I'm at a loss for words." The last day of the tournament started with three morning matches including a much anticipated matchup between the Lady Broncos and Bowie State, a rematch of last season's CIAA finals. On Monday, the Lady Broncos prevailed 4-2 to stay in the winner's bracket.
In the elimination bracket, Winston-Salem State held off Saint
Augustine's College 4-3 after winning the first three games and
Virginia State beat ECSU 4-1 for the first time this season. The
victory ignited the Lady Trojans, who downed WSSU 4-1 and Bowie
State to qualify for the finals where they ran into a buzz saw
"I never thought we would dominate the tournament like this," Henderson said. "I have nothing but praise for the young ladies."
Bowie State's Ambrianna Bankston, an All-CIAA bowler, headed the All-Tournament team with the highest individual average (181.75). Joining Bankston were Reid and Mujica of FSU, Latoya Gee of VSU and Candace Spinks of WSSU.