By George Pohly, of Digital First Media
STERLING HEIGHTS >> Oxford came close last year. There was no stopping the Wildcats this time.
Trailing on total pin count with two bowlers left in the third and final game, Oxford came through with clutch shots and defeated Dakota 1,203-1,190 in the final match to win the state Division 1 girls team championship at Sterling Lanes on Friday.
Runners-up last season, the Wildcats won the first state title in the 13-year history of their program.
"It's amazing," coach JR Lafnear said. "It was a great team effort."
Oxford had a 26-pin lead through the two Baker games that opened the final, but Dakota didn't go quietly.
Dakota made a charge toward overtaking the lead in the final game, but a late open frame by the Cougars helped open the door for the Wildcats, and Oxford wound up losing the last game by 13 pins, 861-848, to maintain its overall advantage.
Sandstrom and Armbruster were among the bowlers who were on the Oxford team that finished second to Davison in 2017.
"They talked about it," Lafnear said. "That's what propelled them to work so hard over the summer.
"They got a taste of all the excitement. They really wanted to get it done this year."
Another Oakland County school, Waterford Kettering, won the boys championship by four pins, defeating Davison 1,399-1,395 in the final.
Dakota was bidding for a second championship in four years.
"They battled through a lot of adversity today," Cougars coach Kevin Wemyss said. "They bowled very well. It was a tough loss at the end. We do feel that things didn't exactly go our way in the final match".