By BRETT MARSHALL
By the time Garden City High School senior captain Ashley Kells had just finished her three-game series at Thursday's bowling triangular against Holcomb and Great Bend at Garden Bowl, it was easily one of the finest performances of her season as she bowled a 537 series.
But Kells and her teammates ran into a steamroller in the visiting Great Bend team, who finished with a 2,329 total while the Buffs were a distant second at 2,154.
It was much the same for the Buffaloes' boys team, except in the case of the Buffs, they averaged a solid 211 per bowler for the four counting scores each of the three games and a 2,543 total. The problem was Great Bend's bowlers were sizzling, shooting a 2,766 for a 223-pin triumph.
"You can't be disappointed when you shoot over 2,500," said GCHS coach Kip Nichols. "It's disappointing if you have an off day, but I can't complain when our kids go over 2,500. Great Bend's been coming on strong and their girls have been strong all year."
For Kells, her final season as a member of the Lady Buffs has been something like a roller-coaster.
She struggled at the season's outset and at one time was nearly left off the varsity travel squad. She has since recovered and has been solid in her last two tournaments.
"I got a new ball and it has helped me a lot," Kells said of her transformation from earlier in the year. "The ball makes me more aggressive because I have to flip it more with my wrists and it creates a more active ball. I just couldn't figure out the other ball."
Kells rolled games of 183-163-191 while junior Rikkie Hemmert led the way for the Lady Buffs with games of 140-203-204--547. It was the first game of the three-game series that doomed the Lady Buffs. They rolled a 654 while Great Bend was out with an 831. In the final two games, GCHS narrowly edged Great Bend by one pin in each with scores of 764-736.
"This is the last time for me to be bowling and I'm just trying to do my all to help the team," Kells said of her and her teammates' effort Thursday.
Samantha Wilken rolled a 510 series (132-188-190) to pace Holcomb's girls squad. Great Bend was led by Miranda Hejny's 641 and Jacy Quade with a 612.
On the boys side, Nichols watched three of his bowlers register 600-plus series', led by sophomore Juan Ollazabal's 644 (227-200-217). Juan Ramirez and Jacob Brungardt were the other two with series' of 628 and 619.
"I was able to hit my mark and I found it quick today," Ollazabal said. "I was able to stay on it for most of the day. I did have a couple of open frames in the second game but I just tried to finish strong."
The loss to Great Bend left the Buffs with a 4-1 mark in the WAC but they will still have a shot to win the league when they host it on Thursday at Hard Rock Lanes (2:30 p.m. start).
The Buffs and Longhorns are at Dodge City on Tuesday for a 3 p.m. quadrangular that also includes Goddard.