KENNER – The top four seeds in the boys division, led by unbeaten and No. 1 seed Brother Martin, and the top three seeds in the girls division, paced by regular-season champion Academy of Our Lady, advanced out of Monday’s New Orleans-area bowling regional at AMF All Star Lanes.
But the real highlight of the day may have been the high scores, led by record-setting Brother Martin sophomore Cody Schaffer.
Schaffer, who set a state record with a 226 regular-season average, shot a 792 series, including his first sanctioned 300 game, as the Crusaders advanced to the bi-regional round with a 24½-2½ victory over Holy Rosary.
After nine solid strikes to start the second game, Schaffer caught a break on his 10th strike when he crossed over to the 1-2 pocket. “My hand was a little bit sweaty, so I needed some air on my hand,” he said. “After that, I couldn’t feel my hand and it was so slow and it went Brooklyn.
“(The last two shots), I was feeling pretty good.”
As a team, the Crusaders shot a season-best 3,958 series, their second team series above 3,900 this season and 15 pins shy of the state record of 3,973.
“We got really close again,” Schaffer said of the quest for a state record. “Hopefully we can do it at some point this year.”
Will Oertling also had a 700 for Brother Martin, finishing with 247 for a 705 series.
The high scores weren’t limited to the two-time defending state champions, however.
Bowling opposite of Schaffer, Holy Rosary’s Alex Dupuy had a 726 series to lead the individuals advancing to the bi-regional, scheduled for March 28 at Baton Rouge.
No. 2 seed Archbishop Shaw, No. 3 seed Holy Cross and fourth-seeded Salmen also advanced to the bi-regional, while on the girls side, AOL, Archbishop Chapelle and Cabrini earned the right to move on.
Shaw defeated St. Augustine 21-6, Holy Cross edged Jesuit 15-12 and Salmen topped Archbishop Rummel 17-10 to advance.
“They bowled real well,” Salmen coach Chris Floyd said of his team. “They jumped out early.”
Led by Brandon Nguyen’s 727 series, the Spartans avenged a season-opening loss to the Raiders at Westside Bowl.
“The first match of the season, we beat them head-to-head but we lost total pins,” Floyd said. “The kids were determined not to let that happen again.”
Dylan Chesterman paced Shaw with a 679 series. St. Augustine’s Jordan Hunter opened with a 276 and rolled a 667 series.
The tightest match in the boys division was the Holy Cross-Jesuit match, which provided its own excitement when Bryan Arena opened with a 299 game.
The Blue Jays rallied to take a 9-7 lead after two games, but the Tigers came back to capture the final game 5-3 and win total pins by 50 pins.
Arena had a 666 series and Remy Mengel shot a 654 for the Tigers. Adam Francis paced the Blue Jays with a 629.
In the girls event, Academy of Our Lady got a bye as the top seed and downed Chalmette 23½-3½ to advance. Danielle Poussard led AOL with a 546 series.
In a match that was much closer than the final score suggests, Chapelle used its depth to defeat Cabrini 20-7 to qualify for the bi-regional, while the Crescents, in their third match of the day, bounced back to earn the third and final qualifying spot with a 20-7 victory over Chalmette.
This season was Chapelle’s first on the lanes since 2010.
“I’m thankful that the school gave us this opportunity,” Chapelle coach Frank Rubi said. “We were just hoping to be competitive this year. We’ve worked hard, and the payoff is here now.”
Jessica Ladd led the Chipmunks in their win over Cabrini with a 491 series.
Seeds and brackets for the bi-regional will be announced later this week. Brother Martin will no doubt get the best shot from everyone in its path as it goes after a third straight state championship.
“We always have a lot of competition in the playoffs,” said Schaffer. “That’s a good thing.”