CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Region 3 bowling finals Monday turned out to be a rematch of the District 5 finals in the same building four days earlier.
One of the endings was different, however, as the McMinn County boys prevented another Rhea County title sweep.
Tied in points and four pins down after two games Monday afternoon at the Leisure Time center, McMinn rolled in the final game and beat the Eagles 18-9 after falling 20-7 to them last Thursday. The Cherokees also lost the teams' first regular-season meeting but won the rematch.
The Rhea girls improved to 22-0 with a 20.5-6.5 win over Walker Valley after topping Hixson 21-6 in the semifinals. The Lady Eagles will host Region 4 runner-up Oakland from Murfreesboro at 11 a.m. Saturday at Crystal Lanes in Dayton for a berth in the state tournament in Smyrna. Walker Valley visits Blackman in another Saturday sectional.
Rhea's boys (24-4) will travel next Monday to Smyrna for a sectional, while McMinn County (14-2) will host Tullahoma at Classic Lanes in Athens.
The Cherokees admitted to wanting a rematch with the Eagles, but they had to pull out a dramatic 14-13 victory over District 6 champion Soddy-Daisy to get that and an all-important sectional berth. Even with the three-point bonus for most total pins, McMinn would have been done if the Trojans' Jase Perry made a "baby split" on the last roll of the match, but he didn't and lost by two pins to Zach Roderick.
"It was definitely not a simple spare," said McMinn senior Mikal Pascale, who headed the boys' all-region team with junior Zach Price. "But it almost cost us."
Pascale rolled 195-256-258 against the Trojans and closed with a 242 against Rhea, when Price followed a 253 and a 204 with a 226. Hunter Lankford, another senior, bowled a 235 and a 238 in the first two games of the final and joined the other two along with Ethan Lankford on the 10-man all-region team.
"Those guys really came through. Everybody did," McMinn coach Chris Skidmore said. "The main thing is we made spares. Last week we couldn't make spares and Rhea County bowled really well."
Said Pascale: "We all came in here motivated to support each other and win today."
Rhea county coach Steven Williams said his boys pretty much equaled their district-final proficiency in the first two games of the region final.
"We were right there, tied and up four pins, but we just didn't have a good third game," he said.
With assistant coach Dean Hale overseeing the Rhea girls, they got a 217-194-222 from Baylee Shipley in the final against Walker Valley, which got a 223-227-214 from Natily Haro.
McMinn's Price had a 226-269-228 combo against Soddy-Daisy but went only 1-2 paired against Austin Humes, who was Awesome Humes in the semifinal with a 246-224-257. He and Dustin Henderson were all-region from the Trojans, while Phillip Rogers, Timothy Rogers and Evan Parnell represented Rhea and Seth Majic made it from Signal Mountain.
Majic had the day's best game with a 286 in the 20-7 semifinal loss to Rhea. He stayed above 200 with a 227 and a 204 and went 3-0.
The all-region girls were led by Rhea's Shipley, joined by teammates Millie Shadden, Elizabeth Deardurff, Kristin Brewer and Brandie White; Walker Valley's Haro, Michaela Brown, Hannah Raper and Skylar Earls; and Soddy-Daisy's Destiny O'Dell and Katrina Stickel.
Haro, Shipley, Shadden, Stickel, O'Dell, Soddy-Daisy's Caitlyn Gann and Hixson's Karmin Nevels from the region semifinalists previously qualified for the Division I girls' individual state tournament on Jan. 19 in Smyrna. Humes, Majic, Price, Phillip Rogers and Signal's Adam Siegel are boys' individual qualifiers from the region final four.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.