ABERDEEN — An historical regular season for the Lady Raider bowling team came to an end on Tuesday at the Sandhills Athletic Conference championship tournament.
Entering as the No. 1 seed after winning the program’s first SAC regular-season crown in its six-year history, the Lady Raiders competed in both an individual and team competition.
On senior night, Richmond placed four girls in the individual state tournament, which was also a single-season program best for boys or girls.
Together for much of the past four seasons, this year’s seniors included Rylie Bohman, Ashlyn Bouldin, Molly Erwin, Savannah Jordan, Carly Leggett, Addison Massey and Cadence Thompson.
Finishing the regular season in first place with 57.5 points, five points better than second place Pinecrest High School, the Lady Raiders earned a first-round bye in the team tournament.
Also qualifying for the state championship tournament, Richmond earned third place by defeating Hoke County High School.
“I am super proud of all the girls for their hard work and dedication,” head coach Ralph Butler said.
“They set program records in a lot of categories both individually and as a team the last two years. They have set the standard for what we would like to do and where we want to be each year.”
During the individual tournament, bowlers rolled three complete games apiece. The top 10 scorers qualified for states, while also being named to the All-Sandhills Athletic Conference team.
Representing the Lady Raiders with the top seed after the three games was sophomore Ava Thompson, who bowled a final score of 516. She also set a program record for the highest score bowled in a single game.
Starting and ending her first singles game with a pair of nine-pin frames, Thompson knocked down 10 strikes in a row in between to finish with a 278.
“Bowling a game like that was honestly really exciting, but also very nerve racking,” Thompson said. “What worked for me was just staying consistent and trying to keep the same rhythm.
“This season, the team did very well together. I think that because the team was so close that we worked better together than we had in the past. The first conference title was a goal we had hoped to achieve this year and we are definitely glad we did.”
Bohman and Massey both tied for sixth place with three-game scores of 461 pins and Cadence Thompson took 10th with a series score of 434 pins.
As one of the top four finishers, Ava Thompson moved onto the sudden death bowl-off, but lost in the first round to No. 4 Catherine Vierwinden of Pinecrest.
Moving onto the team tournament, the No. 1 Lady Raiders lost to No. 4 Union Pines in the second round before defeating No. 3 Hoke County to earn third place.
Again bowling the best-of-three games, Richmond fell 2-0 to the Lady Vikings behind scores of 116-117 and 117-145.
With just three teams eligible for the state championship, the Lady Raiders knocked off the Lady Bucks 2-1. Despite falling in the first game 111-134, Richmond rallied to win the next two 157-115 and 152-129.
“A special thanks to all the seniors who were recognized before we played,” Butler closed. “They’ve been a big part of our success and have left their mark on the program. They’ll be hard to replace.
“We now turn our focus to the state tournament and we hope to do well across the board.”
The state championship tournament will be held at the Sandhills Bowling Center in Aberdeen on Friday, Feb. 17.