Knowing their team had potential, Morgan Park High School (MPHS) bowlers Clinton Lyons and Reginald Petty spent a busy offseason practicing and perfecting their games.

That work is now paying off in a big way.

Lyons won the individual title, bowling a 1,469 series, with Petty rolling a 1,426 to take second as host MPHS finished second on Jan. 13 at its own regional at Dolton Bowl.

“We worked all summer together,” Petty said. “We’re pretty much to the point where we know how the other guy’s bowling ball rolls. When I see something or Clinton sees something, we tell each other. We can make moves, make spares and keep practicing.”

MPHS led the meet through four games only to see Richards roar back into contention in the team standings. Richards finished with 6,130 pins to 6,079 for MPHS.

Lyons said the team missed the opportunity to clinch the title.

“It’s a lesson learned,” Lyons said. “We shouldn’t have gotten down. We should never have let up. We needed to bowl harder. One bad game can’t take us out of the momentum.”

The top 4 teams and the top 10 individuals from non-qualifying teams advanced to the Lincoln-Way Central sectional on Jan. 20 at Laraway Lanes in New Lenox.

Lyons slowed down late but bowled all six games over 200 pins. He averaged 272 over his third and fourth games.

“I bowled pretty well,” Lyons said. “I felt really good. I just wanted it, and I needed to go get it. Going into the sixth game down made us want to grind it out even more.”

Petty came roaring out of the gates, rolling a 290 in his opener. He said he tried to stay steady throughout the series, including keeping an eye on the lane conditions during a long day of bowling.

“We’ve been fighting since day one,” Petty said. “We had to have heart. That’s the key. I had good ball choice, I tried to stay ahead in transition, and I made sure I kept my teammates fired up. I made some good shots.”

Other key bowlers for MPHS included freshman Jeremiah Hibbler (1,178 series), senior Mario Jordan (1,110) and freshman Quincy Jones (897).

Helping lead Br. Rice to a third-place finish (5,936 pins), Tony Lundy continued his impressive freshman campaign and finished with a 1,388 series, good for fourth place overall.

The Mt. Greenwood Elementary School graduate uses a two-handed throwing style. He’s bowled that way since he was young, and if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve thrown two-handed,” Lundy said. “It’s something I’ve developed, and my dad, Phil, didn’t want me to change it because I was so good. We developed the shot from there.”

Lundy averaged 231 pins per game. He also finished second at the Chicago Catholic League meet last week as the Crusaders won top team honors.

“My season started off slowly, but I got more chemistry with the team,” Lundy said. “I started bowling better, and my game improved. This means a lot for the team. Bowling as good as we did, we’re pretty ecstatic.”

Br. Rice sophomore Eddie McGunn (Morgan Park Academy) was a substitute star for the Crusaders, starting in the fourth game.

In two-plus games, he bowled 606, finishing with a strike or spare in every frame. His 276 game was a new personal best.

“Coming in during the fourth, it warmed me up,” McGunn said. “You continue the momentum. It’s been a while since I had a game like that. That’s probably my best game ever.”

Junior Cade Ruggiero (1,171 series), junior Eric Martinkus (991), senior Matt Taylor (865) and freshman Josh Bell (752) were key contributors for the Crusaders.

Other individuals advancing from the area included Evergreen Park’s Zach McCormick (5th, 1,358) and Conner Suszynski (14th, 1,244) and Marist’s Jake Alberts (10th, 1,266) and Kivonte Houston (13th, 1,245).

Evergreen Park finished sixth (5,698) in the team standings ahead of Marist (7th, 5,609) and Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (10th, 5,240).