February a big month on ESPN

Steve Brownlee

ESPN bowling commentators call it Big February. While it’s the first time I’d heard the term, it sounds accurate.

Three of the four PBA majors are live on ESPN the next three Sundays, with several other bonus events thrown in.

The Players Championship finals are on at 1 p.m. this Sunday, followed by the Tournament of Champions at 1 p.m. Feb. 19 and the USBC Masters at 1 p.m. Feb. 26.

In addition, the Chris Paul Celebrity Invitational, a taped event, will be shown in prime time on ESPN at 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, while the World Bowling Tour men’s and women’s finals are live on ESPN right after the USBC Masters on Feb. 26.

Get your fill now, because after that, there’s no PBA on TV until mid-April.

Closer to home, Amber Buckmaster, 36, rolled what I believe is her 16th career 700 series in the River Rock Lanes Team Handicap Tournament on Jan. 28.

Bowling for the first time at the Ishpeming center since April when she shot in the 690s, she put together games of 230, 257 and 237 for 724.

That doesn’t even include a fourth game of 215. You have to use the first three games when counting scores like this, though her last three games would also net her 700-plus.

Bowling with friends Jen Lake, Brenda Carlson and Krissy Kampe, she started with her 13-pound Ebonite Innovate reactive resin ball before changing to another 13-pound Ebonite ball, the NVD, when the shot started hooking too much for her original ball.

The 13-pound weight is unusual for the best of bowlers, but Buckmaster said she’s had to go that light with the weight of her ball because of wrist problems.

The key, though, to this 700 was her teammates.

“I think some of the guys bowling near us were wondering what was going on, but we’re a rowdy team because we’re always cheering each other on,” Buckmaster said. “That really keeps you going.”

Because of the tourney format, she also had to change lanes for her third game, but a consistent shot from her first pair to the second helped her.

“There really wasn’t any difference when we changed,” she said.

It had been nearly two years since her last 700 in late March 2015 at Superior Lanes in Marquette.

By the way, Buckmaster said a check of her Facebook page indicated the River Rock tourney was won by Jesse Bianchi, Evan Tapio, Kassey Kytola and Matt Kilberg.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.