Home Local Sports Raiders finish season as state tournament runner-up

Raiders finish season as state tournament runner-up

The 2022-23 state runner-up Raider bowling team. (Contributed photo.)

ABERDEEN — The Richmond Raider bowling team knocked on the door of the program’s first state championship on Friday, but settled for a second-place finish.

Improving upon last season’s third-place finish in the state championship, the Raiders moved up a spot while also bowling some of the best games in the team’s six-year history.

Richmond faced familiar foe Scotland High School in the championship match, coming up a game short of the title in a 2-1 final.

The Raiders also sent two bowlers, senior William White and junior James Eason, to compete in the individual tournament. Both bowlers just missed out on an All-State performance, with White and Eason taking 11th and 13th overall, respectively.

In the girls’ tournament, the Lady Raiders placed third overall as a team and saw sophomore Ava Thompson make All-State with an 8th-place finish. Head coach Ralph Butler said he couldn’t have been prouder of the program’s efforts.

“I am extremely proud of both teams, I couldn’t ask for more,” Butler said. “They bowled great all day long and proved they’re some of the best bowlers in the state. 

“For the second year in a row both the girls and the boys made the roll-off for state champions. We’re the only program in the state to do that.” 

The Raiders set a program record in the qualifying round ahead of the state championship roll-off. Bowling four games to determine seeding, Richmond notched a final score of 791 pins.

Averaging 197.8 pins per game, the Raiders clinched the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. Their scores were 233, 181, 178 and 199.

The No. 2 through No. 4 seeds were Scotland (722), Pinecrest (699) and West Brunswick (687) high schools, respectively.

No. 1 Richmond met No. 4 West Brunswick in the best-of-three game match in the semifinal round. 

Butler relied on seven different bowlers to defeat the Trojans 2-1 — Eason, White, senior Jullian Cline and sophomores Garret Mabe, Landon Summerlin, Landon Taylor and Sam Thompson.

The Trojans took the first game by eight pins, 161-169, but the Raiders rallied to win game two 157-140 and game three 208-154. 

Thompson closed out all six of his frames in the three matches, bowling the fourth and ninth frames. He had two strikes and four spares. White closed 80 percent of his frames in the anchor spot with six strikes and two spares.


Mabe, who bowled two frames in the second game, was perfect with a pair of spares. Eason closed four of his six frames as the team’s opener, rolling three strikes and adding a spare.

Cline had a strike and a spare, Summerlin bowled a solo strike and Taylor picked up a spare.

Against the Fighting Scots, Richmond lost 2-1 to take the runner-up spot. Game scores were 149-167, 190-160 and 140-168. 

Going with a similar lineup, Eason led the way with three strikes and a spare, followed by Summerlin’s two strikes and two spares.

Both Mabe and Thompson bowled two strikes and a spare apiece, White chipped in two spares and Taylor had a strike.

“What they’ve accomplished this year is incredible,” Butler said of the team. “We graduated five key players from last year’s third-place state finish, and for them to come in and set records in many categories and finish as state runner-up this year is just incredible. 

“I’m so proud of them. They have nothing to hang their heads about. Richmond represented well all day long.”

After a grueling team competition, Butler said fatigue was a major factor for both Eason and White in the singles championship. 

“When you bowl for three hours then turn around and bowl individually, I think fatigue sets in,” Butler shared. “Many of the ones who qualified for individuals didn’t have to bowl in the team portion so they were fresh.”

Bowling three games apiece, White finished with a final score of 584 pins with scores of 201, 192 and 191. That put him in 11th place, just 8 pins away from being named to his first All-State team.

Eason was right behind White in 13th place, picking up scores of 235, 145 and 190 for a total count of 570 pins. Nearly within reach, Eason was just 22 pins shy of All-State.

Winning the individual state title was Alex Schenk of Terry Sanford High School with a final posting of 690 pins.

“Overall, I feel like Richmond was one of the best schools and most represented all day long. It’s been a joy to watch them all season,” Butler closed. 

“A big credit of their performances goes to Steve and Angel Thompson. They’ve been so supportive of our program and have let us practice at Strikers to get better. I would like to give a big shout out to them and encourage the community to continue to support Strikers and God Father’s. They’ve been a big part of our success.”

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.