MCHS bowlers prepare for Final Four, Rummel
By: GEOFFREY STOUTE
Morgan City High School bowlers Brett Keton and Lang Bui are pumped, and they don’t care who sees it.
But anyone who has seen Keton and Bui together in the school’s cafeteria since their return from the state high school bowling’s western bi-regionals definitely has seen it.
It goes a little something like this. They spot each other across the cafeteria and each perform what they call a “belt check” in which they grab their belt buckle and then scream at each other “Yeah, state finals, baby!”
“We get amped up for this,” Keton said Wednesday after re-enacting the scene.
The squad, with a record of 14-1, has good reason to be excited. They have achieved every goal they have set so far this season, as they have won district, advanced past regionals, won their portion of the state’s western bi-regional and they now sit in the State’s Final Four with a chance to capture their next goal, a state title.
They will resume work towards that goal on Saturday when they meet Archbishop Rummel at 11 a.m. in the semifinals of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Boys’ bowling’s Final Four at All-Star Lanes in Baton Rouge.
While larger sports like football, basketball and baseball are broken down into classifications where bowlers compete against each other, because bowling is still a relatively new sport (there are only 60 boys teams across the state), Morgan City’s advancement to the Final Four is truly what the words mean: one of the final four bowling squads left in the state.
“We’re bowling against 1A, 2A, 3A all the way up to 5A schools,” said MCHS head coach Kenny Keton, who, along with assistants Leo Delaune and Michele LaCombre, coach the squad.
Class 4A Morgan City and Class 5A Rummel will join defending state champion, Class 5A Barbe (15-0), as well as returning Final Four participant, Class 4A St. Michael (16-0).
The winner of the Morgan City-Rummel matchup will face the winner of the Barbe-St. Michael’s matchup for the state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday, while, if their scores are high enough, bowlers from the losing teams will compete in the singles’ competition, which also will be ongoing on Saturday at the same venue.
But the Morgan City squad isn’t thinking about losing, although they know they will face their toughest competition thus far in a Rummel squad they finished 13 pins behind for second place at the 2012 Coca Cola High School Invitational in Baton Rouge earlier this year.
At that earlier season matchup, both Morgan City and Rummel didn’t have their full squads like they are expected to this weekend.
“They’re a very, very good team from what we can see by scoring,” Delaune said. “They match up real well with us.”
Still, Delaune said the fact that Rummel was missing a few players could be an advantage for the MCHS squad.
“I think they’re going to possibly underestimate us, because we were missing three players (Keton, Austin Courtney and Bui),” he said.
Archbishop Rummel features five bowlers with per-game averages of 200 or higher.
The squad is led by Brian Bodenhelmer with a 222 average, while Charles Noble is second with a 214 average.
Tyler Leblanc is the No. 3 bowler with a 209 average, while Craig Blakesly (207), Timothy Hart (202) and Josh Berthelot (197) round out the top six.
“I know they got some talent,” MCHS bowler Taylor Brocato said. “I know they’re pretty good. But I know we’re pretty good, and I know we can hang with them.”
Brocato’s attitude is rampant among the MCHS squad. While they know what Rummel is capable of and respect their talent, they also know that they have a good squad.
But Delaune sees something else, too.
“They can shoot some high games,” he said of Rummel, who has individuals who shot games in the 260s and 270s and a few 230s in the bi-regionals.
However, Delaune noted those have been individual efforts.
“The difference between us and them that I’m seeing is we have multiple (high) 200 games being shot in our matches, and I really think that’s going to be the advantage on our part. It’s all going to be about adjustments. It’s really who’s going to be able to adjust the quickest and make the right moves.”
Adjustments were something the squad has done well as they adapted quickly to the synthetic floor at the bi-regional play and defeated Terrebonne High, 24-3 and upset No. 2 seed Parkway, 21-6, on their way to the Final Four.
“The kids were excited,” Keton said of team’s progress this year in just the program’s third year. “They got really pumped up.”
For Morgan City, the squad’s top six bowlers include Chandler Delaune with a 207 average, Brocato at 204, Ryan Veillion at 192, Keton and Bui at 191 and Courtney at 181.
While the squad had its peaks and valleys throughout the season, both the players and the coaches recognized they had the talent to make it this far.
“We just knew if we put forth what we had to offer, we were going to make it,” Courtney said.
Now, that they are here, Veillion said it is a great feeling.
“It’s one of the best feelings ever to be able to get a team of friends together to come up and be able to (have a chance to) be state champions,” he said.
And like Courtney’s individual efforts to drum up on-site support on Saturday, the squad welcomes anyone who will come out and watch them perform.
“When you come watch us, you get pumped up like, ‘Oh my god, I never thought I would get this pumped up over bowling,’” Courtney said. “But it’s a big thing for us, and we’re all really proud to be in state and we’re ready.”