JOLIET — Minooka girls bowling coach Frank Yudzentis considers Oswego East, Waubonsie Valley and Lockport the favorites at the state final tournament, which is this Friday and Saturday.
To arrive at that conclusion, Yudzentis might simply have looked at scores from Saturday's sectionals. Oswego East, with a 6,582, and Waubonsie Valley, with a 6,530, had the two highest scores in the state. Lockport won Minooka's own Rich East Sectional with a 6,068.
Yudzentis is much more familiar than that with those three teams, as are his Indians, because they encountered all three multiple times during the 2012-13 season. In fact, all four teams were at the Plainfield North Strikefest Invitational on Dec. 8, which the Indians won.
"They're all very good teams," Yudzentis said. "We've seen 'em all, and we've beaten 'em all."
The Indians have also lost to all three, and in the case of Oswego East, they lost more than once. East handed the Indians their only Southwest Prairie Conference dual loss of the season, 3.278-2,879 on Dec. 20, and also bested Minooka at the conference tournament. Minooka bowled at tournaments won by Waubonsie Valley — the Prospect Knights New Year Invitational in early January — and by Lockport — the Rich East Sectional.
But the Indians are entering state with the approach of not worrying about what other teams are doing. They are focused on their own performance. And one particular area of the game — making spares — is a top priority. Missed spares cost Minooka a chance at a state championship at the 2012 state tournament, and they nearly cost the Indians a chance to compete at state last weekend at Rich East.
"We missed some easy-pin spares, and that just can't happen," Minooka bowler Allyson Lakota said of the sectional. "For me, it's all about making my spares. That's what hurt us last year. We had a chance to win if we made our spares and we blew it."
Along with Danielle Grygiel and Alison Warwick, Lakota is one of three seniors in the Minooka lineup. Junior Emily Koulis also bowled all six games at the sectional. Junior Kayly Windbiel and sophomore Nicole Segatto split time in the final spot in the lineup there, with junior Leanna Homyak and sophomore Lexi Jones also present and eligible to enter.
"It's an experienced, deep team," Yudzentis said. "Three of the girls (Koulis, Lakota and Warwick) bowled for us (at state) last year, and of our top nine, seven were there and could have had the opportunity to bowl."
Records on the IHSA website show that the Indians have now qualified for the state tournament eight times, and this will be their seventh appearance under Yudzentis. They have placed twice — third in 2005 and second in 2012 — and Yudzentis would like that total to grow this weekend.
"We want to get a trophy," Yudzentis said. "Honestly, I feel like if we bowl the way we're capable of bowling and some things go our way, we could very well win the whole thing."