Well before they stepped onto the lanes at San Antonio’s Bandera Bowl on April 10, Plano’s bowling team had been building toward this year’s Texas High School Bowling state championships for some time.
The Wildcats finished in the final four in 2018 and posted a state runner-up in 2019. After a resounding regional championship win last year, a team that head coach Luis Benavides called his best ever had its title hopes dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plano’s arduous road to state supremacy reached its apex last weekend, as the Wildcats defeated Canyon Randall in the finals to win the boys division and capture its first-ever state championship.
According to a press release, Plano got the better of Randall on total pins over the course of three games played, 594-571. The closely contested final saw just seven pins separate the two teams heading into the third game, with Plano shaking off a slow start with a parade of strikes over the final few frames.
“We took a seven-pin lead after two games, but had three opens in our first five frames of the third game and were down big,” Benavides said. “Although we knew we were good enough to win, we struggled all season with finishing matches. We knew it was going to take a solid last game, and they just went and got it done with a strong six-bagger, striking from the sixth through 11th frames.”
The Wildcats, who entered the state tournament as the top seed based on team average, posted scores of 190, 182 and 221 en route to its 594-pin total against Randall.
It was a gratifying result for Plano, which fielded a co-ed team this season. Members of the Wildcats include Katie Heady, Jake DeVoe, Noah Raleigh, Sarah Randall, Sierra Jones and Shawn Hardin.
DeVoe led the district with a 239 average for the season, plus a 242 average during regional competition. Heady, meanwhile, received a $5,000 Earl Anthony Memorial Scholarship from the United State Bowling Congress this season.
“As a team, for all of qualifying, all the way through, we averaged 199, which was solid, solid, solid,” Benavides said. “We never had a game under 180.”