The Hillsboro Lady Indians bowling team is pictured at Columbus Lanes. (Submitted photo)
The Hillsboro Lady Indians bowling team is pictured at Columbus Lanes. (Submitted photo)
Surrounded by the best of the best at Columbus Palace Lanes Saturday, Dec. 2, the Hillsboro Lady Indians made their presence felt at their first real test of the season. The kickoff tournament is the largest tournament of the year, as teams have to be a district qualifier or have won a conference to earn an invite to the event.

With 32 girls teams attending, along with 30 boys teams from all over the state, the tournament is said to be the largest one of its kind in the entire country.

The format for the tournament included three individual games followed by two Baker team games, and then they cut to the Top 16 teams to go head to head in bracket play, Baker style.

The tournament directors always apply a professional oil pattern to the lanes, making the lanes difficult to bowl. They keep this pattern a secret so no team has an advantage over another.

Through qualifying, the Lady Indians’ first game started out what they thought was a bit rough, scoring a 799 for five bowlers. To their surprise, scores were low for just about everyone, so that was good enough for 12th spot. Looking to rally the team, senior Maddy Miller scored a 210 in the first game, which was sixth-highest in the tournament for game one.

In the second game, the Indians buckled down and made a statement, scoring a 928 for game two, skyrocketing the Tribe from 12th to fourth place. Leading the Lady Indians’ charge was freshman Selena Mingua, scoring a 201, followed by senior Aleigha Tarbutton with a 200 and senior Mary Herman with a 194.

For the third game, the lanes took a turn for the worse on the ladies with the pattern breaking down, and Hillsboro scored a 779. The two Baker games went fast as the Lady Indians scored 147 and a 178, giving them a total of 2,831 for a score good for sixth seed after qualifying, which was 26 pins over last year’s Division II champion Coldwater. Miller was the highest-scoring Hillsboro scorer with a 562 series.

During the championship rounds, Hillsboro faced Fairport Harding High School, the 11th seed. Hillsboro came out hot, beating Fairport in the first two baker games. Fairport rallied and won the next three. Hillsboro fought hard, but lost by one pin and was eliminated by Fairport in Game 4, 187-186.

“We couldn't be more proud of the girls’ performance. They fought hard, and days like (Saturday) tend to be a grind,” HHS coaches Cathy Rhoads and Jeff Miller said. "We leave early in the morning and spend all day for these big tournaments, and given the field of play we were up against, we did very well.

“We have known for a long time that we have one of the best teams in the state. Every other school in both divisions knows it now too. There are a lot of teams out there that don't want to be paired up against Hillsboro now. That’s what we were after, to make a statement, and we believe we did that today.”

Next up for Hillsboro is a home Frontier Athletic Conference match at Highland Lanes vs. Chillicothe High School on Dec. 7 at 4:30 p.m.