By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half
STERLING HEIGHTS – The 2018 Division 1 Singles Finals turned out to be all about a pair of lefties who ended up crying tears of joy after crying tears of grief previously at the MHSAA tournament.
Macomb Dakota junior Danielle McBride and Rockford sophomore Matt Buck were crowned the new individual champions to cap off varying degrees of rebound stories.
For McBride, it was a rebound of less than 24 hours.
During Friday’s team competition, McBride in the final frame of the championship match against Oxford bowled an unfortunate split, which ultimately opened the door for Oxford to win in the final frame.
Obviously crushed and shedding tears with her teammates after that defeat, McBride this time shared hugs and tears of joy with teammates who supported her through her championship run.
McBride qualified as the No. 3 seed and then earned a 473-403 win over Rachel Doran of Farmington-Harrison in the Round of 16, a 432-416 win over Anna Maxwell of Westland John Glenn in the quarterfinals and a 418-382 win over Lauren Slagter in the semifinals to set up a finals match with Caledonia senior Macailin Rodriguez.
Armed with a 211 average, McBride bowled well beyond that to easily defeat Rodriguez.
McBride bowled a 245 and 243 for a final score of 488 that outpaced the 385 bowled by Rodriguez.
“I was just focusing on hitting my spares and hitting my marks,” McBride said. “I tried to stay smooth in everything. I kind’ve lost confidence and thought I could have done better (Friday). I knew I could do better today.”
The Dakota girls won the team title in 2015, but this was the first individual title for a Dakota girl bowler.
McBride finished 10th at last year’s Final.
To further put McBride’s performance in perspective, she didn’t have a match total of less than 400 pins in her four after qualifying, in essence beating the top boys as well with her performance.
Buck also had his rebound story, as he recalled leaving the alley after last year’s MHSAA tournament crying after struggling in the qualifying portion and finishing 46th.
“I came out here to have fun,” Buck said. “Last year, I was a little low and I did cry. But I learned from that experience.”
Buck finished as the No. 12 seed out of the qualifying block this time before earning a win over David Decruydt of St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in the Round of 16, a 403-328 win over Oxford senior Christian Cartner in the quarterfinals and a close 413-405 win over No. 1 seed Trevor Morgan of Kalamazoo Loy Norrix in the semifinals to earn a match against Detroit U-D Jesuit senior Ryan Reid in for the title.
The difference turned out to be the first game, which saw Reid struggle and Buck take a 196-152 lead going into the final game.
Reid came out hot to start the finale, bowling five consecutive strikes to signal he wasn’t going away.
“I just had to keep up with him,” Buck said.
Buck did that, starting the game with three strikes himself before ultimately seeing Reid cool off in the later frames.
Reid ended up winning the second game 218-201, but it wasn’t enough to erase the deficit as Buck earned a 397-370 victory and an MHSAA Finals championship.