The Laurence Manning Academy boys bowling team felt good about its chances of winning its third straight SCISA team championship on Thursday at Gamecock Lanes.
"We were really confident going in," said …
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"We were really confident going in," said Mark Lupori. "We didn't win a single (regular-season) match last year and then won state. We won several matches this year."
Any doubts that the Swampcats would go back-to-back-to-back were pretty much erased after the first of the three games in the 4-team championship round.
LMA rolled a season high 223 in the opening game for a 60-pin lead and increased its lead by one pin in the second game. It went on to beat Heathwood Hall by 40 points, 534-494. Cardinal Newman was third at 462 and Thomas Sumter Academy was fourth at 381.
"It took a lot of pressure off of us to get to that early lead," said Laurence Manning head coach Jay Atkins, who has led the program to four state titles in the seven years that SCISA has offered the championship. "Each of the players came out and bowled really well."
The format has five players bowl two frames each in the game. Along with Lupori, the other players are Seth Stamps, Harley Sandifer, Gregory Morris and Hayden Griffin.
"I think we had five or six strikes in a row at one point," Atkins said. "Once we got that lead, we knew if we just stayed close in the next two games we'd be OK."
"It felt great to jump out early and have that big lead," Stamps said. "It was fun to see everyone playing with so much confidence."
Lupori and Stamps have been on each of the three championship teams.
"It feels great to win three in a row," Stamps said. "It was great to have everyone play as well as they did."
"it really feels great to be able to do this," Lupori said. "It's a great experience for us."
After the tremendous first game, things did level off for the Swampcats. They shot a 163 in the second game before finishing with a 148 in the final game.
"After the first game I looked at everyone and told them we couldn't let up," Lupori said. "All it would take is for us to have one really bad game and another team to have a big game and it would be tight again."
Unbelievably, LMA returns everyone for next year. Atkins though isn't ready to make any kind of predictions.
"You never know until you play," he said. "You don't know who might come into another school who's a real strong player. We'll just have to see how the pins fall."
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