The Starkville Yellowjackets used a little teamwork Thursday afternoon to reach the State Bowling Championships.
Even though the SHS boys scored 3,169 which was good for third in the regional hosted by the Jackets at Bulldog Lanes, they were able to qualify for state as a wildcard.
Dalvin Tate, who led Starkville with 213 points, said the team got together prior to the regional, discussed preparation and was determined to do its best.
In a sport like bowling, Tate knows from experience how important it is to remain positive.
"If you get depressed because you missed a strike, it really hurts you," Tate said. "If you stay like that, your whole game goes downhill. That's why you have teammates to pick you back up."
Senior Rob Montgomery said the Jackets were focused on being together, energized, confident, having fun and doing their best.
Jalen Catledge, who was one point off Tate's mark with a 212, agreed that encouraging teammates is a key to success.
"It was about pumping each other up," Catledge said. "Whenever you get frustrated, you just go downhill. When we see somebody down, we try to make them understand that if you miss something, you have to stay confident about it and tell yourself that you are going to pick up the next one, get a strike and move on from there."
Tupelo finished first in the four-team regional with 3,788, while Olive Branch scored 3,388 for second and Starkville was third with its total. Northwest Rankin had a score of 3,107.
Tupelo and Olive Branch were automatic qualifiers for state, while the Jackets made it as a the wildcard.
After a tough start, Starkville did what was necessary to collect enough points.
"We needed a pep talk," said Delvin Tate of the Jackets. "We prayed at least three times and kept each other motivated."
Starkville coach Jim Philamlee said the younger players had no experience bowling in a playoff setting so it caused some nervousness.
His strategy was to keep substituting and it appeared to have worked.
"They started doing better and we kept bringing people in and out," Philamlee said. "That helped considerably. We have three or four seniors there so they've had experience and they didn't get nervous about it.
"When you sub, you have to take somebody out that has a low score and that's hard to make a decision because that low score might mean you do better next time so you have to make a coaching decision that's not easy. We had our subs practicing so we knew what they were doing, but when you are down there practicing, it's different from the game."
The thing that impressed Philamlee the most about the Jackets was their ability to motivate themselves.
The State Championships will be held at Fannin Lanes in Flowood on Feb. 24.
The SHS girls finished fourth in the region with 1,385 points.
Individually, Lizzie Valdes scored 123 points and Dessica Ivy had 122 points.