Several teams around Cullman County have had success in recent years, but this year’s West Point Bowling team may very well be the top team. Capping off a perfect 10-0 regular season, they made a run all the way to the Final Four, where they fell a single pin short of a championship appearance.
Just a few years ago, the idea of “regionals” wasn’t even something that crossed the Warriors mind. However, with tons of hard work and trusting the process this season, they not only made it to regionals but placed 3rd to advance to the Final Four for the first time in program history.
The highlight of the season possibly came against East Limestone, the defending state champion. The Warriors jumped up 3-0 in the best of seven series, only to have East Limestone win two straight to force a 6th game. With pressure building behind each win by the defending champion, West Point delivered possibly their best game all season, rolling an eye-popping 234 to eliminate East Limestone from the postseason. The score not only won the match, but was the highest score of every school from 1A-5A.
That huge, program-defining win, ultimately led them into a final four matchup against the American Christian Academy Patriots. West Point jumped on top 2-0 with a 1-point 162-161 win in the second game. A couple of games later, the Warriors found themselves up 3-1, a single game from the state championship. The Patriots won two straight games averaging 174 in the stretch to set up a game 7 nail-biter.
Heading into the 10th frame, the Patriots rolled first and put themselves up 21 points. A strike would win it, or a spare with six pins knocked out after. After hitting eight pins on the first roll, the spare shot was thrown, and one pin fell, but unfortunately, a single pin was left standing in an instant classic ending in heartbreak for the Warriors.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, this team was able to accomplish so much on their way to their 12-2 record, but more important than the wins and losses was the camaraderie with this team. Strikes and spares would be welcomed with high fives by teammates, while anything short of that would still receive a fist pump as a “pick-me-up” and encouragement that “you got this” your next roll.
You’d often see fun celebrations such as seniors David Whitesell and Josh Campbell shooting the pins down after strikes or sophomore sensation Kevin Vance flexing after a clutch shot or his season-high solo 244 at regionals. This team didn’t just win, they had fun, and they had fun together as they cheered each other on.
This team has a lot of talent returning next season, with Jake Wray, Jaxon Crow, and Kamryn Horsley coming back with Vance. Seniors Whitesell and Campbell both plan to continue bowling for the rest of their life after the last four years of bowling together. Vance is planning on taking a short break to rest mentality before getting right back to work. Vance finished 7th in the state this season and is looking for the crown the next two seasons. He also scored a 255 in a come-from-behind win earlier this season in the Pins 4 Pens Junior Tournament. The win qualified him for the 2022 Junior Gold Bowling tournament later this year in Grand Rapids, Michigan