Bishop Foley Goes Distance Every Match to Clinch 1st Championship

By Jeff Bleiler
Special for

March 1, 2024

JACKSON – The Madison Heights Bishop Foley girls bowling team was in no hurry to leave Jax 60 on Friday.

The Ventures stayed as long as they could and put on quite a show for those gathered to watch the Division 3 Finals.

Bishop Foley went the distance in all three best-of-five Baker matches, culminating with a whisker-close victory in the Final over Milan to claim the program's first championship. The Ventures won the first game 147-133 before dropping the next two 183-164 and 145-139.

They needed their anchor bowler, Jacey Thibodeau, to step up in the 10th frame of the last two to win, and she did to propel them to 155-147 and 150-130 victories and the trophy.

“It’s pretty crazy walking in here and bowling against all these great teams, and then you make it to match play and win,” Thibodeau said. “Today was full of ups and downs. I didn’t really know what I needed in the 10th, and it was probably a good thing.”

The five games of the championship could not have been closer midgame. In the sixth frame of each game, neither team held a lead larger than five pins. Milan was up by a pin in the ninth frame of the fourth game before Thibodeau doubled to force a fifth game.

Milan again led by a pin in the sixth frame before opening four straight times. Thibodeau needed a mark in the 10th to win the title and threw two strikes and a 9-count.

“I want Jacey in that spot. She’s the anchor bowler for a reason,” said interim Bishop Foley coach Bradford Grems. “She’s clutch. That’s what she does. She’s amazing.”

Grems might have been stepping in as interim coach, but he’s plenty familiar with the Ventures. He coached at Holy Family Middle School prior to this season, mentoring many of the bowlers on his current team, including his daughter, freshman Charlotte Grems.

“The program is incredible,” Bradford Grems said. “We have a lot of younger girls that are just bringing their best and even helping the seniors on the team, and the seniors are passing their leadership onto them.

“Just the way they bond together as a team is so incredible and inspiring to me as a coach. It makes me want to coach more and work with them more.”

Bishop Foley qualified third after eight Baker games and two regular games with a total of 3,139 pins.

The Ventures ran out to a 2-0 lead over Armada in the Quarterfinals before needing a 152-131 victory in the fifth game to advance. They faced 2023 champion Flint Powers Catholic in the Semifinals and lost two of the first three before winning 165-147 and 206-150 to reach the Final.

“It was so incredible to go round to round like this today and just see the intensity in each round,” Grems said. “We had to go five games in each round. A little bit of down, but the girls figured out how to pick it back up. So incredible their energy, intensity and desire to win today.”

Thibodeau will compete for an individual title alongside teammates, senior Madelyn Kubacki and freshman Teresa Schudt, on Saturday.

Milan qualified fourth with 3,099 and beat Ishpeming Westwood in five games before dispatching top seed Three Rivers in four games in the Semifinals.

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