SMYRNA — In leading Columbia Academy to its first Division II boys bowling state championship by the narrowest of margins, Derek Ransom took advantage of a couple of extra weapons.
Mike Ransom, Derek’s father – and winner of 11 individual and team titles as coach at Columbia Central and Notre Dame – suggested a lineup tweak that worked out as CA eked out a 12-11 finals victory Friday over Friendship Christian
The tweak involved Conner Butt, who just two days earlier had won the DII boys individual championship.
“I’d had Foster (Isenberg) bowling that anchor roll. I think it was the second game, I just swapped him and Conner,” Derek recalled. “Conner just had a better look. He was more consistent. I swapped him and Foster, put Conner in that anchor roll, and it paid off.
“I just did what my dad told me to do. There’s a lot of experience there. I don’t question it.”
After the Bulldogs downed Boyd Buchanan 19-4 in Thursday’s state quarterfinal, the No. 2 seed from the Middle Region edged St. Benedict 13-10 in Friday’s semis to set up their third meeting of the season with Friendship Christian.
“We knew it was going to take all we had,” the younger Ransom said after the title match. “They went out there and got the job done. I think Friendship wanted it to be us and them, and we felt the same way. They had beaten us twice already, in the regular season and in the regional. We wanted that match. That’s the way we wanted to see it go down.
“It honestly came down to the last frame of the last game. Conner just had to keep the ball on the lane, … and he did it. He came in clutch all week and performed when he needed to, and that was the difference maker.”
Coming off their first state tournament appearance a year ago, which ended with a quarterfinal loss to Briarcrest, the Bulldogs were able to build on Butt’s individual success that culminated with his championship win Wednesday.
“I think the momentum definitely carried over from that,” Derek Ransom said. “Everybody was happy for him and proud and just got to see what that winning a championship looked like and what it took. Climbing that ladder, they knew it was going to be a grind. They saw that, watching Conner climb the ladder in the individuals.
“Definitely that momentum and just watching that experience paid off for the team effort as well.”