McBride, Buck Come Back to Shine

March 3, 2018

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

STERLING HEIGHTS – The 2018 Division 1 Singles Finals turned out to be all about a pair of lefties who ended up crying tears of joy after crying tears of grief previously at the MHSAA tournament.

Macomb Dakota junior Danielle McBride and Rockford sophomore Matt Buck were crowned the new individual champions to cap off varying degrees of rebound stories.

For McBride, it was a rebound of less than 24 hours.

During Friday’s team competition, McBride in the final frame of the championship match against Oxford bowled an unfortunate split, which ultimately opened the door for Oxford to win in the final frame.

Obviously crushed and shedding tears with her teammates after that defeat, McBride this time shared hugs and tears of joy with teammates who supported her through her championship run.

McBride qualified as the No. 3 seed and then earned a 473-403 win over Rachel Doran of Farmington-Harrison in the Round of 16, a 432-416 win over Anna Maxwell of Westland John Glenn in the quarterfinals and a 418-382 win over Lauren Slagter in the semifinals to set up a finals match with Caledonia senior Macailin Rodriguez.

Armed with a 211 average, McBride bowled well beyond that to easily defeat Rodriguez.

McBride bowled a 245 and 243 for a final score of 488 that outpaced the 385 bowled by Rodriguez.

“I was just focusing on hitting my spares and hitting my marks,” McBride said. “I tried to stay smooth in everything. I kind’ve lost confidence and thought I could have done better (Friday). I knew I could do better today.”

The Dakota girls won the team title in 2015, but this was the first individual title for a Dakota girl bowler.

McBride finished 10th at last year’s Final.

To further put McBride’s performance in perspective, she didn’t have a match total of less than 400 pins in her four after qualifying, in essence beating the top boys as well with her performance.

Buck also had his rebound story, as he recalled leaving the alley after last year’s MHSAA tournament crying after struggling in the qualifying portion and finishing 46th.

“I came out here to have fun,” Buck said. “Last year, I was a little low and I did cry. But I learned from that experience.”

Buck finished as the No. 12 seed out of the qualifying block this time before earning a win over David Decruydt of St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in the Round of 16, a 403-328 win over Oxford senior Christian Cartner in the quarterfinals and a close 413-405 win over No. 1 seed Trevor Morgan of Kalamazoo Loy Norrix in the semifinals to earn a match against Detroit U-D Jesuit senior Ryan Reid in for the title.

The difference turned out to be the first game, which saw Reid struggle and Buck take a 196-152 lead going into the final game.

Reid came out hot to start the finale, bowling five consecutive strikes to signal he wasn’t going away.

“I just had to keep up with him,” Buck said.

Buck did that, starting the game with three strikes himself before ultimately seeing Reid cool off in the later frames.

Reid ended up winning the second game 218-201, but it wasn’t enough to erase the deficit as Buck earned a 397-370 victory and an MHSAA Finals championship.

Click for full girls results and boys results.

Rogers City Teams Eager to Begin, Aiming to Add to Bowling Tradition

By Tom Spencer
Special for

December 15, 2023

Rogers City’s bowling team is on a roll. And the Hurons haven’t even had their first competition of the season.

Northern Lower PeninsulaRogers City has a decorated past, including winning the first state bowling championship in 1999, organized by the Bowling Center Association of Michigan, against a field including schools of all sizes and five years before the addition of MHSAA Finals in the sport. The boys team also was the Division 4 team runner-up at the first Class C-D Finals hosted by the MHSAA in 2004.

The Hurons hope to return to those glory days by bringing back experienced bowlers on both the boys and girls teams. Rogers City last qualified teams for the Finals in 2020 – when both the boys and girls advanced – and both teams hope to make a run at the Northern Michigan Conference title and land a spot at this season’s Finals in March. 

The boys did find success last year — with just four bowlers — placing ahead of a handful of teams at its Regional. This year, Rogers City has a full boys team, and more, including junior Gavin Rhode, who qualified for the Singles Finals last year. The Hurons also are returning senior Conner Muller and sophomore Gabe Mina; Muller narrowly missed qualifying for the Finals last winter. And they are excited to see how first-year bowlers Blaise Szatkowski, Cooper Heinzel, George Karsten, Jacob Wickersham and Ryan Morgan perform. 

Gavin Rhode, a Finals qualifier last season, practices recently.The girls are returning seniors Arianna Anderson and Sophia Mina and sophomore Olivia Reyes.  First-year bowlers Ruby Svay – an exchange student – and freshman Brooke Crawford compose the rest of the squad.

Both the boys and the girls have added strong bowlers with incoming freshmen, including Wickersham, a 180-average bowler.

“With a small school you kind of know what is coming along,” long-time coach Brian Bannasch said. “Even with our limited numbers last year, we were still competitive.”

The Hurons will open their season Jan. 6. As has been the case for years, matches will take place on Saturdays for optimal lane availability.

“After the success previous to COVID, the last couple years have really been a letdown just not having enough bodies,” Bannasch acknowledged. “We still sent kids to the state finals individually, but team-wise were just lacking numbers with a small school that has under 175 in the high school.

“When you lose any number of kids, it is tough to replace them,” he continued. “We are really excited to have numbers this year.”

The bowling program has been battling lower overall school enrollment and competing with basketball and wrestling teams for roster numbers.

Long hours in the alley for practice, traveling for matches and competing are paying off for the Hurons. Those long hours are the same for the coaches, forcing absence from the family business.

But it’s being done with a focus on a road trip to the Division 4 Finals in March, at Northway Lanes in Muskegon.

The boys and girls Regionals, hosted by Traverse City Christian, will be held at Lucky Jacks in Traverse City. 

“We definitely have individuals expecting to qualify as individuals on the boys side,” Bannasch said. “We have three girls that have bowled before and fewer teams in each Regional.

“We had a pretty powerful Regional,” he continued. “Maybe with fewer teams, it could work to our advantage.”

Arianna Anderson, left, and Sophia Mina are seniors on the girls team.Bannasch, whose family owns the local bowling alley Nautical Lanes, has been the boys and girls bowling coach from the beginning at Rogers City. The school started with a club team prior to making it a varsity sport. 

Bannasch has seen a lot of talented bowlers develop through his youth programs and then vie for championships in high school. The Hurons often have had more than a dozen bowlers on the boys team.  

Bannasch points to every bowler in Rogers City history competing in at least one varsity match every year as key to the team’s historical success. His unique philosophy of participation often has paid dividends.

“One of the things that has helped us be successful is that I have a little different philosophy than most coaches,” Bannasch noted. “We’ve had years where we’ve had 12 or 14 boys and 10 girls.

“We had JV matches, but we never consider it JV – they were all part of the varsity bowling team,” he continued. “In the next year, they have experienced that and know what the varsity match is all about.”

Bannasch also has watched other conference schools win or contend for Finals titles, something he points to with pride.

Bannasch spotlighted Cheboygan’s boys having won the Division 2 title in 2009 and Boyne City’s boys — as a newer program — finishing Division 3 runners-up in 2020 and 2021. Cheboygan’s girls finished Division 3 runners-up in 2022.

“Our success has been great, but I take just as much pride in the success of our conference,” Bannasch said. “We’re such a close-knit conference, it is great to see anybody up here be successful at it.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Rogers City’s bowling teams have high aspirations this winter with their first competitions coming up next month. (Middle) Gavin Rhode, a Finals qualifier last season, practices recently. (Below) Arianna Anderson, left, and Sophia Mina are seniors on the girls team. (Photos by Richard Lamb/Presque Isle Newspapers.)