Any quality bowling team boasts a lineup that generally receives significant contributions from all five of its members.
For Shepard’s boys’ squad, three steady players — junior Brandon Deitz and sophomores Eric Walters and Matt Shaw — have helped the Astros to a 4-3 start and given them a fighting chance of ultimately winning the South Suburban Conference Red title.
But Shepard coach Simeon Shama knows the Astros will need input from his fourth and fifth bowlers on a steady basis if they are to triumph in the Red. Shepard split a pair of conference matches last week.
The week began on Tuesday with the Astros on the short end of a 1,729-1,694 decision against Oak Forest in an SSC crossover match at Oak Forest Bowl. Shepard bounced back on Thursday to defeat Eisenhower 1,911-1,732 in an SSC Red clash at Centennial Lanes and bump its record back over the .500 mark.
“So far, I think we have a pretty good team,” Shama said. “We have a couple of bowlers who need to improve to solidify that fourth and fifth spot in the lineup, [but] we’re pretty strong with Brandon, Eric and Matt, [who is] our third best bowler on the team. The fourth and fifth are a little shaky right now.
“Our goal is to continue to progress throughout the season, and hopefully that progress will be evident in the lower spots.”
In the loss to the host Bengals, Walters led Shepard with a 247 game and 449 series. He then supplied a 269 game and 484 series to key the Astros’ victory over the Cardinals.
“At the tournament we participated in at Oak Lawn, we had a good chance to win there, too, but we were hurt by not having good scores in the fourth and fifth spots,” Shama said. “We need a player to step up.”
Three candidates for a breakout are seniors Shawn Garvey, Ron Marzian and Cody Larsen. Shama admits he also has an ace in the hole with freshman Jordan Noftz, who has been kept on the sophomore squad thus far, but could easily become a significant asset before the conference season concludes.
“I have my eye on Jordan,” Shama said. “He’s on the sophomore team, and he’ll need to be moved up to varsity for the conference meet. I think he’s really going to fill in that fourth spot for us.
“He could be on varsity now, but we’re a little shorthanded down there and we [also] wanted him to get a feel for his game in a less-intense environment. I think we have a good chance of taking conference, especially if we move Jordan up.”
Sandburg split a pair of SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover contests last week. Following a 2,184-1,841 loss at Orland Bowl on Tuesday, the Eagles rebounded to edge Lincoln-Way North 1,040-1,032 on Thursday at Tinley Park Bowl.
Jared Saba’s 268 game and 483 series paced Sandburg in its win over the Phoenix.
In other dual meets last week, Stagg fell to a 1,875-1,822 loss to Bremen on Monday at Palos Lanes and Chicago Christian beat Lincoln-Way East 1,640-1,544 that same day at Orland Bowl.
Shepard dropped a pair of SSC crossover matches last week, losing 1,482-1,302 to Hillcrest at the Brunswick Zone XL in Homewood on Tuesday and 1,645-1,476 to Tinley Park at Centennial Lanes on Thursday.
Miranda Lindgren finished with a 347 series for the Lady Astros versus the Lady Hawks, and recorded both the top game (240) and series (451) against the Lady Titans.
Jessica Colson’s 344 series topped Sandburg last Tuesday, and that effort was good enough to boost the Lady Eagles to a 1,609-1,315 triumph over Stagg in an SWSC Blue dual meet at Palos Lanes.
Colson upped her series total to 400 the next time out, but Joliet West still managed to register a 1,910-1,703 win in another conference encounter on Thursday. Also performing well for Sandburg in a losing cause was Elizabeth Fazy, who rolled the team’s high game with her 206.
Besides its loss to the Lady Eagles, Stagg also suffered a 1,477-1,193 setback to Argo in a nonconference match at AMF Forest Lanes in LaGrange last Monday.
Lincoln-Way East defeated Chicago Christian 1,213-1,011 last Monday at Orland Bowl.
Two-time defending Class 3A state champion Sandburg continued its early season dominance with an impressive 55-6 victory over previously undefeated Lincoln-Way East in an SWSC Blue dual meet last Friday.
The triumph improved the Eagles’ ledger to 6-0 overall, 3-0 in conference action.
Hunter Pindel registered his sixth pin of the season at 195 pounds to lead Sandburg. Also scoring pinfalls were Brad Crnich (145), Patrick Brucki (170) and Matt Frostman (220). Additional victories came from Adrian Gutierrez (126), Moe Shuaibi (132), Ben Schneider (138), Johnny Pellegrino (152), Tom Slattery (160), Jake Tablerion (182), Louie Hayes (106) and Colin Glascott (120).
Hayes and Glascott, a pair of sophomores, squeezed out hard-fought wins. Hayes needed an overtime to notch an 8-6 decision over Jason Stokes, while Glascott edged Sean Sibley 3-2 in his first varsity start of the season.
Stagg beat out Bradley-Bourbonnais for third place at the former’s own invitational on Saturday. Earning championships for the Chargers were Tyler Mackessy (152) and heavyweight Mantis Drukteinis, who topped the Boilermakers’ Sam Meads 3-0.