Tallmadge head girls bowling coach Scott Krainess had a promise to keep.
"I joked with the girls that when they shot a 900 game, I had to buy them ice cream," he said.
The Lady Devils accomplished that feat on the grandest stage of all.
They opened the Division I state tournament with an impressive 925 game Saturday at Wayne Webb Columbus Bowl.
Ice cream, anyone?
"They reminded me of that," Krainess said.
In a season full of exceeded expectations, Tallmadge concluded its winter as one of the best teams in Ohio.
The Lady Blue Devils finished with an 11th-place total of 3,144 at the 16-team Division I state tournament.
The top eight teams qualified for head-to-head play.
Gahanna Lincoln defeated Kettering Fairmont to win the title. Centerville placed third.
"To have both teams (the boys also finished 11th at the state tournament Friday) is extremely satisfying," Krainess said. "You can’t take that for granted.
"There are more than 1,600 boys and 1,300 girls competing in high school bowling. For our kids to achieve what they did, will provide lifetime memories."
Perhaps Tallmadge was treated to more ice cream by its coach.
That’s because the Lady Blue Devils bowled a 937 in their second game. Those totals put Tallmadge in second place.
"We were in great shape," Krainess said.
However, things started to spin out of control for the Lady Blue Devils.
They shot a 795 in their third game and dropped all the way down to 10th place. Tallmadge continued its struggles in the Baker format, which each team member rolls a frame, with a 487 series. As a result, the Lady Blue Devils missed qualifying for the top eight by 87 pins.
Despite the collapse, there was nothing that could spoil the Tallmadge players’ peachy mood. The Lady Blue Devils reached the state tournament for the first time in school history and the girls were going to savor every moment of their experience.
"The young ladies had a great season in matches and the tournaments they bowled in," Tallmadge assistant coach Cindy Elliott said. "I could not have asked for a better group of young ladies to coach.
"They amaze me with their talent and dedication to the sport. You don't get this far unless you have hard workers with a love and passion for the game. They definitely put on a great show."
Lady Blue Devils’ sophomore Kirsten Moore shared runner-up honors with Troy’s Jenna Stone after rolling a 681 series. She rolled games of 258, 245 and 178, respectively. Twinsburg senior Tyahana Elder placed first out of 104 bowlers with a 729 series.
Senior Emily Kiss was next for Tallmadge in 18th. She bowled a 595 series (205, 217 and 173).
"Kirsten and Emily's game play are so good due to their consistency and parental involvement," Elliott said. "Kirsten and Emily's parents play a giant role in how they bowl.
"The Moore family and the Kiss family have put aside their wants to make sure their children are the best bowlers possible."
In 2016, Kiss was the second bowler in school history to advance to the state tournament. The first was her older sister Jennie, who qualified the previous year.
The younger Kiss, who is planning to continue her academic and bowling careers at Walsh University in North Canton, is the first Tallmadge bowler to reach the state tournament twice.
"Emily had a few bad breaks," Krainess said. "Otherwise, she would have made All-Ohio honorable mention. She missed by two pins. It was a great cap to her high school career. We will definitely miss her."
The Lady Blue Devils also got a stellar performance from sophomore Isabelle Hall, who rolled a 567 series (34th, 180, 228 and 159). Also competing for Tallmadge were freshman Florence Drayer (98th, 157) and seniors Aubrey Zalar (100th, 141) and Hailey Cool (103rd, 129).
"Isabelle was awesome," Krainess said. "Aubrey came in game one and made some big shots. Florence came out of nowhere and ended up starting at states. She did an amazing job.
"Kristina, Hailey and Aubrey also worked hard and helped the team."
Krainess and Elliott also were appreciative of the efforts by the Tallmadge administration during the season.
"I want to emphasize our thanks for the support we receive from our superintendent, Jeff Ferguson, athletic director, Don Seeker, principal, Mike Householder and assistant principal, Michael Bluey. We really appreciate all they do."
Krainess gave credit to Elliott and the rest of his coaching staff for turning the Lady Blue Devils into a state power.
"We have an outstanding coaching staff with Cindy Elliott, Natalie Briganti, Ginny Moore, Mike Swejk and Rich Moore," Krainess said. "There is so much work being done outside of matches and tournaments that contributes to our success. We also have a great group of parents."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.