And the award for breakthrough performance at Day 1 of the state bowling tournament goes to … the Sterling Golden Warriors.
Competing at state for the fourth time in 5 years at Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford, the Warriors reached Day 2 by placing 11th out of 24 teams with 5,649 pins.
"In 2009, we missed going to the Saturday section by two spares missed – that's five girls through six games," Black lamented Tuesday at Blackhawk Lanes in Sterling. "Last year? Four spares."
The top 12 teams make the cut, as well as the top 30 individuals not on those squads. Despite declining scores in the afternoon session, Sterling amassed a pinfall that was 61 pins on the right side of the cut.
Moline, the only team to best the Warriors at the United Township Sectional last Saturday, totaled 5,588 for 13th place. Lockport and Jefferson are currently tied for the lead with 6,163 pins, 514 greater than Sterling. Jefferson's Emily Malone leads individually with a 1,374.
Taking the lead role for Sterling was senior Amber Granzow. The hard-throwing left-hander is 18th individually with a 1,266 six-game series, a 211 average. None of her games dipped below 194, and her 212 finale was timely.
Junior Destinee Howard also finished strong with a 189, while the rest of the team struggled on the burned-out pattern. Howard and Samantha Lewis both supported Granzow with 1,153 series, placing them 63rd individually.
Lewis, a senior bowling her first state meet, opened the day like gangbusters after a promising week of practice on the pattern at Blackhawk Lanes. She rolled a 232 and 231 out of the gates.
The first game paced a 1,067 team game that found Sterling in first place after the opening game.
But after a 940 and 955 capped the morning session, the Warriors rolled a 923, 908 and 856 in the afternoon.
Senior Brandy Behrens came out swinging with the team's high game of 237 before cooling significantly. Her 1,097 series ended with a 145. Sophomore Magan Tintori, another first-time varsity bowler, had a 980 series.
The Warriors will look to get off to another hot start and sustain it when the third round begins at 9:30 Saturday morning .