When it comes to bowling tournaments, nobody from Lorain County can rival North Ridgeville.
The Ranger boys are the only Lorain County team that has qualified to districts all six years since the sport was sanctioned by the OHSAA for the 2006-07 season.
The North Ridgeville boys have won the North Shore Bowling Conference Tournament three years in a row and four times in the last five years. Last season, Ridgeville (12-3) squeezed out a 13-pin victory at the conference tournament over Amherst, which won the NSBC with a 15-0 win-loss record.
The same two teams are again expected to be the top contenders. Senior Ryan Kordish and junior Joey Peterson lead North Ridgeville’s chances.
“They’re both determined and love bowling,” said North Ridgeville coach Frank Kotas. “They lead in different ways. Joey initially was kind of shy, but he’s come out of that. He’s been helping me out an awful lot. He checks out the scores, sees who is where, talks with me and offers input as far as the team goes. Ryan brings to the team more inspiration as far as doing better.”
Peterson led North Ridgeville last year with a 202 average with Kordish right behind at 201. Kordish didn’t bowl especially well at conference (11th, 598) or sectionals (40th, 592), but finished second (651) at districts and took 39th at state.
“I wasn’t consistent most of the season. I wasn’t getting into a rhythm,” Kordish said. “I wasn’t throwing a consistent shot every ball. After sectionals, I didn’t have the confidence that I needed.”
Kordish took a gamble at districts with a brand new ball – a Hammer Taboo, which he received only two days earlier.
“I had been using a Storm Virtual Gravity (ball),” said Kordish. “It’s got a little more hook to it. It reacts more than the other ball. It’s for a heavier oil.”
Kordish tested the ball with only a couple games at Black River Lanes.
“I knew that there was a different pattern,” said Kordish. “More oil on the outside, dryer on the inside. It’s a good ball because I can swing it and it’ll snap right back.
“My coach (Kotas) was telling me beforehand not use it. I first told him on the bus ride over here. I bowled well with it at practice so I figured I’d try it.”
Kordish switched back to the Storm ball in the third game for the remainder of the tournament when lane conditions began drying up, but the early run with Hammer ball was enough to seal him a state berth despite a 181 third game.
“A lot of it has to do with your mental game and keeping your head in there,” Kordish said. “Once you’re flustered, it’s pretty much over. You really have to stay focused.
“You just have to take it one shot at a time and focus on every new shot. I really stress that on myself. I think of every shot as a game. Joey’s been great at helping me because we throw a similar shot. We give each other tips. We’ve been around a while. He knows me and I know him.”
In 2010-11, Kordish led the Rangers with a 207 average and Peterson (202) was right behind.
“Attitude is key,” Peterson said. “If someone misses a spare, we back each other up. Everyone on the team is very consistent. We struggled with consistency at the end of last season, but we’re hoping to fix that and make it to state.”
North Ridgeville boys did very well in its two state tournament appearances, taking sixth in 2008-09 and seventh in 2009-10. Vermilion’s boys are the only other team from the NSBC to make it to state, taking 17th in 2006-07 and 14th in 2008-09.
“That conference tournament is a big key to their mindset going into the state tournament,” said Kotas.
“It seems like our team pulls it together, especially during tournaments,” said Peterson. “We all get the mindset and step up our game. Tournaments are very different than dual meets. You have to be on top of things for the Baker round. That’s critical. Individually, you have to be moving and converting spares. The lanes are breaking down so if you don’t move you’re not going to feel the same shot and the ball is going to react a lot differently.”
Peterson led North Ridgeville both at conference (675) and sectionals (671), but struggled at districts (331).
“Some of us had a difficult time adjusting at districts,” said Peterson. “The experienced people knew what they were doing and knew they could change a shot to make it work. You have to move on the lanes and figure out what you’re doing before it’s too late.”
In addition to adjusting to lane conditions better, Peterson knows the things he needs to tweak in order to improve his game.
“Mostly right now I’m just focusing on 10-pins,” he said. “It’s been a big downfall for me freshman and sophomore year.”
Kordish knows how quickly Peterson can turn his game back around.
“When he’s on, he’s hot,” he said. “He can really take over a game. He’s consistent. He stays up there. He knows how to turn a game around. He knows how to come back from a shot.”
Contact Paul Heyse at 440-329-7135 or email@example.com.