Home Local Sports Raiders take 4th at SAC championship, Wheeler earns 7th in singles tournament

Raiders take 4th at SAC championship, Wheeler earns 7th in singles tournament

Left to right: Coach Ralph Butler with seniors Alston Johnson, Colin Wheeler, Cameron Way, Cody Eason and Dexter Mabe.
Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ABERDEEN — The Richmond Raider bowling team placed fourth overall in Thursday’s Sandhills Athletic Conference championship. 

Entering the team tournament as the No. 2 seed, the Raiders lost to No. 3 Scotland in the semifinals. Richmond earned a forfeit win against No. 7 Lee County in the quarterfinals.

Competing in a single-elimination bracket, the Raiders fell 161-154 to the Scots. 

Despite what head coach Ralph Butler called an “off day” for the team, the Raiders managed to qualify for the state championship tournament. The top four teams — Pinecrest, Hoke County, Richmond and Scotland — all punched their ticket.

One of the bright spots for the team was senior Colin Wheeler’s performance in the singles tournament championship.

Of Richmond’s eight bowlers, only Wheeler placed in the top 10 of the singles championship. Placing 7th overall, Wheeler bowled a three-game score of 523. He rolled scores of 175, 181 and 167.

By placing in the top 10, Wheeler was named to the All-SAC team and qualified for the state singles tournament.

“I was very nervous going into it,” Wheeler said. “The oil was way heavier than we are used to, so I had to make a big adjustment riding the gutter line down to hook it into the pocket.

“I struggled a little bit in the first game, but I found the line and hit a few strikes in a row,” he added. “I made small adjustments from there. I was really happy to place 7th overall, and a little surprised.”

The cut for the singles tournament was 481 pins, so junior William White missed out by just a dozen pins with a score of 469. 

Other singles scores were senior Dexter Mabe (455), freshman Garret Mabe (454), senior Cameron Way (435), freshman Sam Thompson (420), senior Alston Johnson (415) and senior Cody Eason (387).

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Pinecrest’s Zach Wallace defeated Samuel Locklear of Hoke County in the singles championship.

Senior Colin Wheeler (center) is recognized along with the other top 10 finishers in the singles tournament. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

“Overall with singles, the 10th place average was 160 pins and our guys didn’t adjust too well to the oil pattern,” Butler explained. “They hit the pocket pretty well, but just couldn’t catch a break and pick up spares.

“Their averages were well below what they normally throw, and with the 160 average, we have four or five guys who are capable of bowling way over that,” he added. “We’re proud of Colin and we’ll be cheering for him.”

Against Scotland in the team semis, Butler used Johnson, Dexter Mabe, Wheeler, Way and White as his five bowlers in the Baker format. Johnson had a pair of spares, Mabe and Way each had a strike and a spare, and Wheeler added a spare.

“Our focus now is 100% on the state tournament tomorrow,” Butler closed. “Every bowler we’ve got qualified for the boys and girls, so these groups should be extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished and we’re not finished. 

“We’ll head to states and look to bowl some of the best games we’ve had all year.”

The Raiders also recognized their five seniors — Eason, Johnson, Dexter Mabe, Way and Wheeler — with a Senior Night ceremony between games. Each bowler was given a bowling pin with a hand-written note from Butler.

The Richmond boys’ and girls’ bowling teams will compete in the state tournament on Friday at Planet Fun in Shallotte.