By Larry Hilliard
Special to the Journal
JACKSON – Nerves caught up with a young Tupelo team in the Baker roll off for the MHSAA Class II (5A and 6A schools) championship Friday.
After leading the four-game qualifying, the Golden Wave totaled 15 open frames in losing the best-of-three roll off 3-1 to DeSoto Central.
“The format is a little different,” Tupelo coach David Clayton said of the Baker roll off in which five bowlers alternate by frames. “Of the five who were bowling for us, only two were on the team last year. So nerves were probably a part of it. I return everyone next year so I feel confident.”
There were four juniors and an eighth grader in the roll off for Tupelo.
Two strikes by Cole Neal in the 10th frame gave DeSoto Central a 162-156 win in the first game. Drew Turberville also had two strikes in the 10th for Tupelo, but it wasn’t enough. The Wave had six open frames in losing the second game 195-129.
Tupelo bounced back to win the third game 167-138, wrapping it up on spare by Turberville in the 10th. The Wave had its best game in the fourth, including three strikes by Turberville in the 10th, but lost 218-203 when DeSoto put four straight strikes beginning in the seventh frame. The last one by Neal clinched DeSoto’s first championship.
Tupelo qualified for the eight-team tournament as a wild card after finishing third behind DeSoto Central and Neshoba Central in the North Regional. The Wave then led qualifying with a four-game total of 3,893. Other team scores were DeSoto 3,830, Neshoba Central 3,731, Starkville 3,613, Hancock 3,485, Clinton 3,440, Ridgeland 3,388 and D’Iberville 3,275.
Turberville was the top individual bowler with a 946 total, and his twin brother Josh was fourth with an 855 total. Both ended the season with a 207 average. Others in the top five were Joseph Blount of Neshoba (872), Neal (858) and Anthony Lancaster of DeSoto (822).
Tupelo was the two-time defending champion and has won the title eight times in the 10 years that there has been a championship.
Tupelo senior Taylor Russell was the top individual bowler with a four-game total of 839, but the Lady Wave failed to qualify for the roll off, finishing fifth with a 2,839 total. Russell will attend UAB on a bowling scholarship.
Starkville bounced back from a first-game loss to defeat Clinton 3-1 in the roll off. Starkville led qualifying with a 3,044 total to 2,938 for Clinton. Other team scores were defending champion Neshoba Central 2,903, DeSoto 2,883, Gulfport 2,727, D’Iberville 2,712 and Germantown 2,494.