North Hills bowlers set sights on postseason
After qualifying for the WPIBL tournament last season for the first time since 2012, the North Hills boys bowling team has continued its success and is aiming for another postseason appearance in March.
The Indians (7-0) have been led by an experienced senior lineup, headlined by Joe Andrews and Andrew Wehner. Andrews, who finished in 19th place in the WPIBL individual championships last season, is second in the West Division with a 206.89 average, behind Moon's Jon Kleer (224.43).
With his top-20 performance last year, Andrews earned a spot at the Western Regional and finished in 26th place.
Wehner, who was 69th at the WPIBL individual championships last year, is fourth in the division after seven weeks with an average of 198.81.
“(They have) experience bowling, doing tournaments, bowling on Saturdays and travel teams; they are doing a lot of bowling,” coach Whitey Simpson said.
“They are working together and talking to each other. They are helping each other out when they are doing good or bad. That's why they are doing pretty well.”
The rest of the Indians lineup is comprised of Josh Welka, Matt Ettore and Shane McNickle. Welka (eighth) and Ettore (11th) are averaging 180.90 and 170.53 this season. McNickle is averaging 165.62.
Simpson, who is assisted by Greg Wehner, has seen an improvement in the team's overall maturity leading to more focused practices.
“When we do practices, we are going to do different things to practice on mostly with the 10 pin because we have a problem with us having a lot of right-handers with the 10 pin as far as picking it up,” Simpson said.
“We play a lot of different games like golf. The low score wins so out of a full rack you try to get one pin out of the 10. It's very hard to do without throwing a gutter ball.”
The boys team for North Hills has earned two wins against Avonworth and Northgate, while collecting other wins against OLSH, Moon and Quaker Valley.
On the girls side, the Indians (2-5), who won both matches against Northgate, are the complete opposite of the boys team.
The girls have a mostly inexperienced lineup with three freshmen — Shayna Stewart, Emily Yoder and Marissa McDonnell — sophomore Kalynn Reese and senior Emma Rohm.
“We still have a lot of growing pains to go through, and we need to learn how to adjust to lanes,” Simpson said.
The Indians will finish the regular season at Moon and Quaker Valley.
“I'm hoping to get three out of five with the way things are looking right now. If I could take all five I would be happy, but I think I'm only going to get three this year as far as the cutoff (for the individual tournament),” Simpson said.
The WPIBL team championships will be Feb. 15-16, while the singles championships are Feb. 22-23. If the Indians qualify, the Western Regional championships will be March 10-11, while the state championships will be March 17-18.
Andrew John is freelance writer.