Macomb County is considered to be home to a lot of talented bowlers in the state of Michigan, and boys and girls varsity teams from the area are going to have an opportunity to show off their skills in the upcoming Macomb County High School Championship Tournament.
The boys and girls varsity tournament will be held on Jan. 21, and the JV teams will square off Jan. 22. Both events will take place at Sunnybrook Lanes in Sterling Heights with a start time of 9 a.m.
Approximately 23 boys teams will be participating in the tournament, while the girls are expected to field around 22 teams. After the initial qualifying round, the field will be reduced to 16 teams. At that point, the teams will be seeded and go head to head.
At the end of the day, only one team will be able to lay claim to being the Macomb County champion.
Having the opportunity to hoist a trophy is no small matter to the teams participating.
“When you come from a county as big as Macomb, with the talent it has, it’s a real honor to win the tournament, because you’re the best out of 23, 24 schools,” said Utica Stevenson coach Tom Stockton. “That’s your crown for the whole year. It’s very competitive. It’s amazing. The intensity and enthusiasm of the crowd and the bowlers. There’s probably as much intensity as it would be at a high school football or basketball game.”
Aside from mere bragging rights, the tournament can also act as an excellent barometer to let teams know how serious a contender they may be once the postseason tournaments come around.
If a team can have a strong showing in the Macomb County tournament, it wouldn’t be too big of a surprise if they are heard from again when it comes time to battle it out for a state title.
“We’ve probably had more state team champions come out of Macomb County than any other area of the state,” Stockton said. “This tournament really is a tough one to win — it’s probably the premier tournament outside the state finals as far as talent, because there’s not a lot of weak programs in Macomb County.”
Last season, it was Stockton’s Utica Stevenson team taking home the boys team title, while Warren Cousino came away with the trophy on the girls side. Roseville’s Frank Snodgrass won the boys individual title; Cousino’s Lauren Krywy won the top spot in the girls competition.
While upsets are always a distinct possibility in tournament play, Stockton does have some guesses as to which programs to keep an eye on.
“Richmond’s girls look pretty strong again this year,” he said. “Cousino, unfortunately, doesn’t have a program this year. L’Anse Creuse North, they’ve won the county championship three or four times. Anchor Bay (is) last year’s Division 1 state champion.”
On the boys side, Stockton referenced Lakeview, Armada and Dakota as being teams in the mix to leave the tournament as county champion. But he also doesn’t think anybody should count out his Stevenson team, either.
“Our boys are doing really well,” Stockton said. “Anything can happen, but I think we have a very good chance at it again. The boys have put up some amazing numbers this year.”
Stockton said the team’s highest game of the season was 1,244, a score he believed was the highest of any high school team in the state at press time. He added that the team’s average for the season is 1,088.3.