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  • The Courier

    South Terrebonne bowling goes on historic LHSAA playoff run to state championship match

    By Mikey DiLullo, Houma Courier-Thibodaux Daily Comet,


    South Terrebonne High School doesn't typically compete for many state championships. In the school's entire history, Gators teams have combined to win three state titles, with one — the 2022 baseball championship — coming since the turn of the millennium.

    However, one team at the school changed that this season, and it came from an unlikely sport: bowling. ST's boys bowling team took the 2024 LHSAA Division II playoffs by storm, advancing to the state title match. Although the Gators fell short of the championship, this playoff run was the culmination of the greatest season in program history.

    "We've been a playoff team for a few years," South Terrebonne coach Archie Adams said. "But to get to the level we got to this year was a big accomplishment."

    In high school bowling, there's 27 points available in each match, with the first team to 14 points winning. Six bowlers compete for each team. ST claimed the 2-seed, but the inexperienced Gators faced an uphill battle as a young team returning only three seniors — Donte Johnson, Jaxsen Lafleur, and Kevin Pinell. Still, South Terrebonne opened the playoffs with a comfortable 22-5 win over rival A.J. Ellender in the Round of 16.

    "I thought they did well as far as handling the pressure of the playoffs," said Adams. "They didn't get rattled too much."

    The Gators stayed cool into the quarterfinals, beating Belle Chasse by another 22-5 score, and punched their ticket to the state title match with perhaps their finest match of the season: a 26-1 rout of 11-seed Albany in the semifinals.

    More High School Sports:Covenant Christian softball opens playoffs with dominant win over St. Martin's Episcopal

    Top-ranked Archbishop Shaw awaited South Terrebonne with the state championship on the line. The title tilt was a much different atmosphere from the rest of the playoffs. The championship was decided in Gonzales, in a private, four-lane VIP section of the bowling alley. In addition, the match was played in front of hundreds of fans in attendance, with more across the state watching the online livestream.

    "It's a real nice facility to begin with," Adams said. "But it's very intense. A lot of people don't understand that until they actually attend one. They think it's a laid-back situation, but it's not laid-back at all once you realize you're being filmed, or when you turn around and see hundreds of people watching you."

    More High School Sports:Terrebonne's Miller signs to play college volleyball at Xavier University of Louisiana

    Unfortunately for Adams and his Gators, though, their playoff run came to an end. Shaw started the match with a clean sweep of the first eight points, putting ST in a deep hole early. Junior Tony Bella, a player-coach, attempted to lead the comeback charge as South Terrebonne scored five of the next eight points, but the Eagles closed out the match — and the championship — with a 19-8 win.

    "We got way too far behind in the first place," Adams said. "Once we settled down, I thought the kids played well, but we came up short."

    Despite coming tantalizingly close, and falling short, Adams thinks this year's team will be one he, his players, and their fans remember for a long time.

    "I've been coaching for 28 years and coaching bowling for 10 of those," Adams said. "I had never coached in a state championship before. I got close a couple of times, coaching in several sports. People often go their whole careers without making a state championship. I feel blessed just to be part of one."

    The players were, understandably, disappointed in the immediate aftermath. But Adams says that wasn't a bad thing.

    "You want them to be a little disappointed," Adams said. "You want them to want to be back there. But after some time, when they decompressed, I told them that they accomplished something that never happened in our school's history in our sport, and in our school's 60-plus year sports history, we've only had a few teams make it to a title game."

    It was a fun run to be apart of until the end, but the Gators are ready to reload.

    Seven players will come back in 2025. Bella returns for his senior year as player-coach, as will fellow juniors Shawn Champagne, Trenten Authement, Zack Arceneaux, and Brennan Bourg. Sophomore Logan LeBouef and freshman Aiden Jones will also be back on next season's team. In total, South Terrebonne returns five of its six bowlers from its state finalist lineup from this season. Adams believes that his players are hungry not only to make it back to the title match, but to finally win the championship.

    "It was a blessing for us," Adams said. "Now, these guys have experienced it, and I think they want to experience it again next year."

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