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East Liverpool bowlers are on a roll

Members of the East Liverpool boys Division II district championship bowling team are (front, from left) Gavin Maze, Anthony DeMarco, Logan Simms; (back, from left) head coach Lori DeMarco, Derek Klein, Paxton Grimes, Nathan Kelly, Jordan Wolf and coach Jeremy Maze. The Potters will compete in the state tournament in Columbus on Saturday. (Photo by Jimmy Joe Savage)

EAST LIVERPOOL — The East Liverpool boys bowling team rolled through Division II district competition with a sizable 247-pin win last week.

Now the Potters are looking for more as the team is headed to the state bowling tournament on Saturday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.

“To have six varsity bowlers, all have averages between 180 and 206, is like a dream team,” East Liverpool coach Lori DeMarco said. “We have had some really good bowling teams over the last few years but all of the boys with exception to one have grown up in youth leagues. They are veterans. To have a team like that with six strong bowlers, it’s amazing.”

“We have a great group of guys here and I had a strong feeling that if we showed up and our spirits were high, we would have a great time and we could maybe move onto (the state tournament) and that is exactly what our boys did,” sophomore Nathan Kelly said.

“It’s really amazing,” senior Anthony DeMarco said. “I never thought I would get the chance to go (to the state tournament) and if it wasn’t for these guys, we wouldn’t be going.”

The Potter boys are heading to the state tournament for the first time in school history as a team. The team was able to get in 16 matches this season and improved with every match along the way. It culminated in a district win that put them among the best 16 teams in the state.

“We knew we could, and we did perform well that day,” Anthony DeMarco said. “We had a few hiccups here and there, but we did it. It has been a struggle and we have had to work through different things, but overall, we just worked as a team and got the job done.”

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Kelly said. “We all wanted to make it and we have been bowling for a long time and we wanted to prove ourselves.”

Kelly, who had a school-record 760 three-game series as the district champion, leads the team with a 206 average per game, but all of the Potters are over 180. Paxton Grimes is second on the team with a 195 average and Derek Klein is third with a 189.

“Last year we had a lot of times the kids would get down and almost give up but now we have fighters,” East Liverpool coach Jeremy Maze said. “They are always fighting to correct themselves and they know how to make their corrections, so they have really matured that way.”

Even though just making it to the state tournament is a huge accomplishment, the Potters aren’t satisfied with stopping there.

“As a team, we want to get into the top three,” Anthony DeMarco said.

“Show up, have fun and have a great time and see what happens from there,” Kelly said.

“With my great coaches and my teammates, I just want to show out and make my team and my family proud.”

As for their coaches, they know what they can accomplish on any given day.

“They don’t want to just go to state, they keep raising their bar,” Lori DeMarco said

“Last year we created some records and this year we broke those records,” Maze said.

Lori DeMarco knew it was important to get as many face to face matches that they could in a weird season were virtual matches were a possibility.

“We kept them busy,” Lori DeMarco said. “If we lost a match, we were getting a match. We were always face to face. We didn’t do any of the virtual matches.”

“If we aren’t in a match, we were (at Walnut Lanes),” Maze said. “The kids put a whole lot of work in.

“They are putting the work in and it is paying off,” Maze added. “It’s not just the practice, it is the work they put in after practice on their own.”

Virtual matches were when the two teams bowled at separate venues and streamed the matches to each other. This was something the Potters were never interested in.

“We left it up to the team and they said no,” Lori DeMarco said. “They wanted face to face.”

The Potters will head to Columbus today and will bowl a practice round. The tournament begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to the district win, the Potters won the Buckeye 8, were runners-up at sectionals and are in the lead for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship.

Even with all of those accolades, the Potters are thankful for one simple thing.

“We are incredibly lucky to have an entire season,” Kelly said.

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