HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
He knows the drill
Mililani’s Ray Allen Jr. spares no effort in his preparation
Only six matches into the Oahu Interscholastic Association bowling season and already Mililani is showing that despite having only one senior the Trojans remain a force in the OIA West.
Mililani is 11-1 for the season and is led by four-year starter Ray Allen Jr. Yes, Ray Allen, like the basketball player. Except this Allen throws strikes instead of no-look passes and drills bowling balls rather than 3-pointers.
As you would expect, he does get the occasional ribbing about his name from classmates, but if it bothers the 17-year-old, it doesn't show when he's filling the lane with strikes.
Allen averages 222 pins per game, highest in the OIA West. According to Mililani head coach Bruce Inafuku a 190 game at the high school level is a solid performance, and Allen performs that way in every game he bowls.
Inafuku, last season's coach of the year, has his bowlers practice picking up spares. He also uses video recording to show the bowlers what exactly they are doing and how they can improve their technique.
Last week against Radford, Allen bowled a first game 279, which equates to strikes in every frame and one spare. He finished the night with a 699 pin total and led his team to an effortless 3-0 win over the Rams.
"I bowl one frame at a time, everybody wants to bowl a 300 and it would be nice to bowl one," Allen said. "But I can't base myself off of that - it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing least. I just try to bowl my own game and try for good shots every frame."
Allen has not rolled a perfect game, but he says he did come close, rolling a 299 at the Leeward Bowling Center Junior Doubles tournament on Aug. 31. For each match, Allen tries to set a three-game goal of 700, another tall order for a high school bowler.
Allen decided to try the sport five years ago when his father took him to junior bowling at Fort Shafter Lanes. During his time as a young bowler Allen has attempted to master the science behind the game. From different balls to lane conditions to drilling his own balls, he has made learning the ins and outs of the popular sport a priority.
"Now he is taking his game to another level with drilling his own balls," Inafuku said. "He is not only focused on lane conditions and practicing, but drilling balls, too. It's another phase of the game for him. Not too many bowlers are drilling their own balls."
Allen brings four different balls to every match. During the games he uses each ball at strategic points as well as specific balls for picking up spares.
"The lane conditions start changing during the game, so I try to use a ball that will react differently to the lanes," Allen said. "I read up on the balls and try to learn about how the balls are made."
According to Allen, there are several things that can affect the lanes throughout the match. Sometimes it's the style of the other bowlers and the other balls that are being used on the lanes. Normally during matches the lanes dry, thus he changes to balls that are set up for those conditions.
Allen is able to make these decisions because he drills the finger holes for his own bowling balls. Normally, this is a technique reserved for pro shops and other bowling professionals. But this high school senior didn't shy away from learning the art form.
"I wanted to learn more about bowling and the balls," Allen said. "My friend started teaching me how to drill balls and I picked it up."
According to Allen, he has more than 40 balls at his house and continues to purchase new balls so he can improve his drilling.
"I have a drill press at home," he said. "It's like a pro shop - I have pretty much everything in my garage. You definitely know what the ball is going to do, because you put the work into the ball."
During the 2005 bowling season Allen was the only freshman starter, which according to Inafuku is an uncommon occurrence for his Trojan bowling teams.
"He is probably my only four-year starter, I usually don't start freshmen," Inafuku said. "His freshman year he was the reason we won the state tournament."
Allen's freshman season was also the last state tournament title for Mililani. During the 2005 tournament Allen bowled in eight of nine games and still managed to finish in 24th place individually. The Trojans followed that season with a second-place state tournament finish in 2006, with Allen finishing fifth individually. Last season, they again finished in second and Allen landed in ninth individually.
Inafuku deliberately sets a goal of second-place finishes in his division because second place will earn his team a ticket to the state tournament. He is positive about his team this year and is looking to Allen for leadership.
"We are progressing well. We are on the weak side, but I think we will be able to contend," Inafuku said. "We can lose to anybody and we can beat anybody. The main thing is that they try their best."