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The Mokena Messenger 012518 sports the Mokena Messenger | January 25, 2018 | 45 LW Central to state for first time since ‘08 RANDY WHALEN Freelance Reporter In sports people often refer to the home field advantage. For the Lincoln-Way Central and Lincoln-Way West boys bowling teams, it was the home lanes advantage. Led by individual champion Alex Nolan and thirdplace finisher Jack Davern, Central cruised to the title of its own sectional last weekend. The Knights, who will be making their first trip to state since finishing third in 2008, led from the start and put up a score of 6,343 on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Laraway Lanes in New Lenox. That was 445 pins better than runner-up Lincoln-Way West (5,898), which also calls Laraway Lanes home. The Warriors, who were equally led by their two returning seniors, George Dennison and Caleb Kirby (1,232 each), jumped to second in the final game and advanced downstate for the second straight season. The other four qualifying teams were Joliet West (5,828), Minooka (5,789), Plainfield Central (5,688) and Oswego East (5,662). The state finals are this weekend, Friday, Jan. 26, and Saturday, Jan. 27, at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. A master motivator, Lincoln-Way Central coach Coley O’Connell made all the right moves to get his team ready. “We have practiced for this moment all season long,” said O’Connell, who wore special black, red and white checkered pants for the occasion. “We set up different situations throughout the season on the lanes. We wanted to really frustrate the kids. Get them used to any situation we could possibly think of to have no unknowns when this time came. These kids were mentally ready for [the sectional]. We won four tournaments this season and have pointed to this for a long time. ‘It’s a huge advantage to bowl the sectional in your own house, but we were the only school to submit to the IHSA to host the sectional.” Nolan, a sophomore, finished with a pinfall count of 1,364. That was 12 pins better than senior Matthew McCarthy, a senior from Chicago Christian. Nolan had every game be a 200 or better. He had a high of 244 in Game No. 2, during which the Knights finished with a 1,254 total. “I’m just happy to be able to do that,” Nolan said of winning the individual title. “I never thought I’d be able to with all these excellent bowlers. But I was able to maintain a [nearly] 230 average for the day. “Our goal was to make it to state, since we were bowling in our own house. Coach [O’Connell] has thrown different things at us all season. He’d give us all these weird things and situations, but it helped at the end.” The extremely large crowd that was in attendance for the sectional also got to see something weird during the intermission. That was Davern working behind the counter. His parents, Jerry and Kim, have owned the bowling alley for 10 years, so he was pressed into duty before heading back to bowl the afternoon session. “This means a lot,” Davern said. “All the hard work paid off. Give coach [O’Connell] all the credit in the world for making us better. It’s the first Lincoln-Way Central’s Alex Nolan sends one down the lane during sectional play Saturday, Jan. 20 at Laraway Lanes in New Lenox. Nolan finished with the top score of 1,364, and the Knights cruised to an overall first-place finish with a total of 6,343. 22nd Century Media file photo time for all of us at state. I’m looking forward to bowling our best and placing.” Davern, a junior, finished with a 1,341 total to grab one of the Top 4 medalist spots. He had a high of 266 in Game No. 2. Steven Plane (1,226, high of 246 in Game No. 2), who won the individual title at the Joliet West Regional the week before, was 20th overall. Fellow seniors Trevor Amir (1,220, high of 234 in Game No. 2) and Ricky Wesel (1,192, high of 264 in Game No. 2) were right behind for the Knights. RIGHT: The Knights’ Steven Plane, who finished 20th overall, lets one fly during sectional play. Geoff Stellfox/22nd Century Media

46 | January 25, 2018 | The Mokena Messenger sports URBAN LIVING. SUBURBAN SETTING. Girls basketball Union Square Townhomes • 3 Story Townhomes from the Upper $200s • Walking distance to the metra commuter train and downtown Tinley Park • Call to learn more about current buyers incentives Located at the corner of 179th St. & Oak Park Ave. 708-560-3669 Family owned business built on Trust! All Plumbing Repairs | Installations Sewer & Drain Hot Water Heaters | Sump/Ejector Pumps FREE ESTIMATES Upfront Flat Rate Pricing! ing! No Hidden Costs! SENIOR AND MILITARY DISCOUNTS Licensed Plumbers Protect the Health of the Nation 708.223.7041 ® $ 25 OFF Any Plumbing Repairs 22CM.NEWS/DRCP LIC#055-043295 $ 50 OFF $ 100 OFF Water Heater Installation DECORATED MODELS ARE OPEN: Wed – Fri: 12-5 Sat – Sun: 11-5 Or by appointment Any Sewer Repair East’s Katchie Savic (left) dodges Bolingbrook’s Danyel Middleton on Thursday, Jan. 18 in Frankfort. Julie McMann/22nd Century Media East falls to Bolingbrook RANDY WHALEN Freelance Reporter Lauren Hunter wanted to give herself and her basketball team a birthday present. With about half a minute to play in the fourth quarter of last week’s big SouthWest Suburban Conference showdown it appeared that Hunter might just do that. The Lincoln-Way East senior post player and junior guard Sydney Nekola trapped on the halfcourt press near midcourt. That resulted in a steal by Hunter, who got the ball forward to Kaley Sheehan. The junior guard converted a layup for her only points of the game with 21 seconds to play to give the Griffins the lead. But unfortunately for them, it was short-lived. Gabby Smith came right back and converted a layup of her own with nine seconds remaining. The points by the senior swing player proved to be the final ones of the game and gave Bolingbrook an exciting 47-46 victory over the Griffins in a first-place SWSC Blue showdown on Thursday, Jan. 18 in Frankfort. It was the third straight close win for the Raiders (15-2, 5-0), who are bidding for at least a share of their 10th conference title since the league formed for the 2005-06 school year. East (21-3, 4-1) lost for the second time in three games. The Griffins, who tied Bolingbrook for the SWSC Blue title in 2014, fell 70-65 to Rock Island on Monday, Jan. 15 in the semifinals of the Rock Island Tournament. They rebounded for a 59-52 win over Maine South in the third place game later that day. But last week’s loss hurt since it put Bolingbrook in the driver’s seat for the conference title. Still, it was a tremendous effort by East to get back in a game where it was outrebounded 46-30, including 31-18 in the first half. “I wanted a birthday win, so it’s disappointing,” said Hunter, who still kept her spirits up by handing out cupcakes for her 18th birthday after the game. “But we kept our composure and that was good to see.” The Griffins did that despite leading scorer Carolyn Waleski (17 points) being saddled with foul trouble throughout. The senior guard eventually fouled out with 48.4 seconds to play. But not before she helped East pull within a point, at 43-42 by capping a 6-0 run on a layup with 3:20 to play in the game. There was no more scoring for over two and a half minutes, until sophomore guard Jayden Marable (9 points) converted both free throws after being fouled by Waleski. Those were two of the six free throws the Raiders made all game as the shot 33 percent (6-of-18) from the line. Hunter (11 points, 7 rebounds) scored on a layup Please see basketball, 41