When CJ Petrin was 3 years old, he rolled up a paper ball and tried knocking over empty two-liter bottles.
Now the Notre Dame High School senior standout bowler is trying to lead the Fighting Irish to a second straight TSSAA Division II state championship.
Petrin rolled a 686 high series Wednesday to lead the Irish to a 14-13 win over Boyd Buchanan in the Division II East Region championship match at Spare Time in Hixson. He began the finals with a 10-frame score of 252 in which he had nine strikes.
"You might not find an athlete in the Chattanooga area more dedicated to his sport than CJ is," Notre Dame coach Chuck Newell said. "He thinks about bowling all the time and practices every chance he gets. He is a great leader and has helped make everyone around him better."
With a 280 as his game high in a season when matches have been rare because of COVID-19, Petrin hopes to leave a mark at the state tournament Jan. 21-23 in Smyrna.
Fellow seniors Carson Barasha, Boston Eberly and Griffin Lee joined Petrin in qualifying for state as individuals as well, and the four combined for a 213 pin fall in the first of three games in Wednesday's region final.
"We all push each other to be the best," said Petrin, whose game average is 224 this season. "We are a senior-led team, and we all want to finish strong like last season. We will have to lock in and be at our best next week. It would mean the world to us to be back-to-back state champions."
In the girls' region championship match Wednesday at the same location, GPS beat Boyd Buchanan 20-7 .
The Bruisers were led by sophomore Molly Burnett's high series of 528 (198 first game), while senior Katelyn Beach bowled a 191 in the third game. Both qualified individually for state, along with teammates Madison Arden, Allie Foropoulos and Laura Peele.
Boyd Buchanan, a second-year program, will make its first bowling state tournament appearance when its boys' and girls' teams both compete next week in Smyrna. Caleb Kelley is the school's first individual state qualifier in the sport.
Sale Creek 55, CGLA 6: Keilyn Morgan had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Kayla Phillips added 12 and nine for Sale Creek (8-2).
Sale Creek 63, Lookout Valley 13: Shelby Defore had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Morgan 10 points and four blocks, Aesha Preston 12 points and Phillips 10 points in the victory.
Bradley Central 69, Ooltewah 29: Kelsey Carman scored 13 points, and Anna Muhonen added 12 with eight rebounds for top-ranked Bradley Central (10-1, 3-0 District 5-AAA), which led 25-2 after the first quarter. MacKenzie Bernier led Ooltewah with 10 points and six rebounds.
Hixson 36, Howard 31: Bre Collier and Rickell Crutcher combined for 18 points for Hixson, which outscored the Lady Hustlin' Tigers 13-7 in the second quarter. Howard's Brieanna Poole had 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
Boyd Buchanan 51, Grace Academy 13: Eleven players scored for the winning Lady Buccaneers (7-4, 3-0 DII-A East 2), who allowed just three points before halftime, and Dani Reeves had four steals.
Signal Mountain 78, Red Bank 7: Tennessee Tech signee Olivia Koontz scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Lady Eagles, who jumped out to a 26-2 lead, Jaylah Hardy added 14 points and Cassidy Pawson had 12.
Silverdale Baptist Academy 61, Collegedale Academy 29: The Lady Seahawks (10-7, 2-0 DII-A East 2) earned their 25th straight district win as they connected on nine 3-pointers and shot 80% on free throws. Ryleigh Hoover made four 3s, Kelsie Johnson scored 11 points and Becca Lamb added 10.
Marion County 57, Grundy County 48: Lorence Bradford scored 28 points and Sara Muir chipped in 13 for the Lady Warriors (8-2), who battled back from a 19-8 deficit after the first quarter. Jordan McCullough's 17 points led Grundy.
McMinn County 74, Soddy-Daisy 51: The Cherokees scored 27 points in the second quarter and 24 in the fourth to pull away. Davion Evans (15 points) and Andrew Beavers (14 points) led McMinn County in scoring, while Jalan James (nine points, five assists) and Hayden Frank (nine points, eight rebounds) also contributed. Soddy-Daisy's Zack Ryans had 13 points.
LaFayette 70, Murray County 51: The Ramblers (8-0, 5-0 GHSA Region 6-AAA) overcame early foul trouble that sidelined three starters in the first half to win the matchup of top-10 teams. Aidan Hadaway, who played three minutes in the opening half, scored 25 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, while DeCameron Porter and Zach Barrett added 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Christian Heritage 57, Darlington 54: Jax Abernathy scored 10 of his team-high 21 points in a decisive third period to lead the Lions (11-2, 2-0 Region 7-A private), while Zundra Jackson added 11 and Evan Lester nine.
Chattooga 66, Dade County 59: The Indians outscored the Wolverines 27-17 in the third quarter to take control of the Region 7-AA game. Shaun Lester led Chattooga (8-2, 4-0) with 21 points, followed by Jaylon Johnson and Cash Allen with 14 each. Makinley Everett led Dade (2-3, 2-1) with 17 points, with Gabe Costley adding 12 and Brodie Swader 10.
Roundup reports compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon. Contact Young at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.