Lockport cruises to Rich East Sectional title

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Competing in arguably the state’s toughest sectional – the Rich East Sectional at Lakewood Bowl in Richton Park – Lockport’s bowlers figured their bid for a state berth would come down to the wire Saturday.

Instead, the Porters ran away from the field, capturing the sectional title in dominating fashion. Lockport totaled 6,068 pins over six games to top Minooka by 237 pins and easily advance to state for the first time since 2009, when they won the state title.

“We had a lot of motivation from not making it the last three years,” said Lockport senior Bri Zabierek, who finished second. “The whole second half of this season, we’ve been on an upswing. We just stayed consistent (Saturday).”

Zabierek (1,312) finished 74 pins behind Lincoln-Way West’s Morgan Flaherty (1,386, 231 average), the defending state champion who cruised to the sectional crown.

“I definitely took a step up (Saturday) from the rest of my season,” Flaherty said. “I just really focused on every shot and I just hope I can show up like this at state.”

Lockport got strong performances from Ashley Hostert (5th, 1,251), Nicole Troha (10th, 1,220), Megan Szczepanski (17th, 1,168) and Allyson Ware (25th, 1,117).

Zabierek in Game 2 and Hostert in Game 4 took perfect games into the 10th frame, finishing with scores of 279 and 277, respectively.

Minooka entered the final game 78 pins behind Joliet West, but the Indians’ 921 in the finale was good enough to take the second and final state berth by eight  after West struggled to an 835.

“We were all in tears,” said Minooka’s Emily Koulis (7th, 1,234). “We just relaxed in the last game and picked it up.

“We had a teacher (Michael Assaf III) who died of pancreatic cancer (Jan. 27) and we dedicated this to him.”

Taylor Warwick (12th, 1,203) and Danielle Grygiel (13th, 1,197) had strong days for the Indians.

Lincoln-Way West freshman Jessica Schram shot a 300 in Game 3.

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