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The 2017-18 Season in Review

LINKS TO ALL THE POSTSEASON COVERAGE All the numbers have been pretty well crunched and the lists made.  The writing takes a while. I can&...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Season in Review - Girls Final Rankings

I stressed about final rankings in the boys' post, no need to repeat. The bright side: the girls cooperated with expectations to the point that doing this was a cakewalk compared to the boys.


TOC champ, State Group III champ, North Group III champ
Brick Memorial's full season numbers are still considerably better, but Warren Hills outscored their rivals each of the three times both teams were at the same event, and put up the state's highest sectional score to boot.  Undefeated in Skyland Conference, broke 3000 at conference tournament, won CJWC, took Group III at states by over 300 pins, and went 6-1 in Baker games to take the TOC.  Each of the starters, Jenna Henderson, Katie Winch, Kelcie Mannon, Jessica Yerance and Elizabeth Hudock, made huge contributions at one time or another.  After finishing second at States the last two years, this was a well-earned victory at the end of a dream season for the Blue Streaks and coach Greg Rottengen (who also coached the WH boys to a sectional title).

State Group IV champ, South Group IV runnerup
Avenged sectional loss at states despite missing one of their best, senior Sarah Pitcher. 196 season GA easily the best in New Jersey.  Undefeated in matches in Shore South A, 1st or 2nd (among NJ teams) in each of nine tournaments. Shore tournament champs, Brick champs, Bob James champs.  A deep, powerful team including three bowlers besides Pitcher that averaged 197+: Amanda Shelters, Jillian Stuart and Victoria Bird.

State Group III runerup, South Group III champ
Clearly the third strongest team in the state, just had the misfortune to be in the same Group as #1 and same conference & division as #2.  Won Wheeler, top qualifiers at RWTI, 3rd at James, CJWC and Shore.  Shot as high as 2956 in regular season.  Led by senior Victoria Gray and two underclassmen, Caylin Ryan (195 avg) and Julianna Forbes (3rd at Individual TOC).

TOC runnerup, State Group II champ, North Group II champ
I had this team underrated all year.  While their GA never quite reached the heights (finished 8th at 169), they were building depth and peaking at tournament season, taking the state title by an impressive 100 pin margin.  Third at the season-opening Crusader, and dominant at the Bergen and in Big North regular season (16-0 / 102-10). Tiffany Sucero and Alexa Hernandez were the biggest stars, but this team was always more successful than a look at the numbers might indicate.

State Group IV runnerup, South Group IV champ
Pulled off the upset of the postseason in defeating Brick Memorial for the sectional crown, and made a serious run at repeating the act at states.  The Mariners' growth over the season was a great story, and when Cassidy Syrdale and her teammates started joining Kamerin Peters' big scores, they were as big a threat as anyone.  Not great tournament results until the last two, the ones that mattered the most: TRN had the second highest sectional score in the state and fourth highest total at states.

State Group II runnerup, Central Group II champ
Thoroughly throttled Shore Central A (45-0), Ocean Twp was one of  the top-scoring teams all season, finished fourth in GA.  Jenn Ingulli and Dana Henry bowled like stars all year, leading their team to wins at the LB Wave and the Monmouth and fourth in a crazy-deep field at CJWS.  When impressively improved Alexa Tieto joined them with big scores, this team could fire with anyone.  Top overall score at the Central regional, but came up just short at states.  Very strong season.

State Group II third place, South Group II runnerup
When you consider their youth (all underclassmen) and the fact that their top bowlers averaged 186-182-178, the Hawks had a really amazing season, hanging in the top five nearly the whole time.  Manchester is used to titles, we understand, but a 42-3 regular season and several strong tournament performances in a "rebuilding" year?  Fantastic.  And the result of the rebuild will no doubt be one of 2018's best teams, as Theresa Bedaro, Kimberly Wolf and Mackenzie Weber all seem more than capable of making a jump to another level.

State Group III third place, Central Group III runnerup
At the end of the day, the Eagles were just a bit behind Brick & Warren Hills in firepower, but this team had a tremendous season, dominating the GMC as few have ever done (16-0 regular season), and, as I've remarked several times, showing up and putting up a strong number every single match.  These girls were a machine.  Samantha Salzone grew into a star, runnerup at GMC individual and making the cut at TOC, and Touri Holmes finished off a very solid career.

State Group III fourth place, South Group III runnerup
Another team where a look at the averages doesn't tell the real story.  This team took a lot of lumps in Shore South A and a tough tournament slate, and it was unlikely that one of their starters would go out and shoot 650 to carry them, so instead, every single bowler produced nearly every day, and they were still beating their averages at sectionals and states, breaking 2500 in each.  Natalie Swindell led with a 184 average, but showed the ability to make a big jump in 2018.

State Group III sixth place, North Group III runnerup
With all due respect to Warren Hills, Teaneck was the best team story of 2017-18, coming from absolutely nowhere to wreck the Big North conference  (16-0 / 108-4), post a GA over 170, win the Crusader and put a legitimate scare into the #1 team at sectionals. Teaneck's top two averages belong to freshmen Margaux Lesser and Mia Aish, so they're gonna be around for a while, too.  By the way, that's five Group III teams in the top ten.

11. LACEY 
State Group II sixth place, South Group II champs
I think all writers, even at the bowling-blog level, look for narratives.  Lacey sure provided a great one, with its constant chase of Manchester, and I had fun with it.  Lacey finally captured the white whale, pulling off the upset to win a well-deserved sectional title.  They also finished with a strong 166.5 GA, threw a four-game set as high as 2764, and bring back the entire starting lineup next year: Autumn Laird and Liz Schreier may be heading a top-five team next December.

State Group IV third place, Central Group IV champs
State Group III fifth place, Central Group III champs
We all kinda knew this was going to happen, right?  Same school district, GA within half a pin.  Freehold took the regular season 36-9 to 35-10.  Howell finished higher at the county and conference tournaments.  Each won their sectional, Freehold scoring higher.   Each was just off the pace at states, Howell scoring higher.  Postseason pin totals: Howell 5021, Freehold 5042. Each has a clear pair of very talented leaders: Clare Chaffer and Sarah Orensky at Freehold, Amanda Dorner and Madison Gibson at Howell. Flip a coin, if you like, but this has been a legitimate tie all season long.

North Group III 3rd place
The first of the hard-luck teams from sectionals, stuck in a spot where they had to beat a state top-10 team just to qualify for states.  Wayne Valley did well, shooting 2533, but Group III was just brutal this year.  They still had a great season, winning the Passaic County title, second at the Crusader, and going 80-4 (only points allowed were in a 3-4 loss to Holy Angels) in conference play before a couple of post-sectional matches.  Better news: three of their top four return next year, including average leader Marissa Cosentini (188), who had a phenomenal freshman year.

South Group IV 3rd place
Speaking of hard luck, asking even a team as talented as Eastern to beat either Brick Memorial or TRN is a tall order.  I'm not a conference historian, but Anna Hileman and Kristina Scimone must graduate as one of the most successful one-two combinations in Olympic history, making states as juniors and finishing off their careers as regular-season and tournament conference champs, and the #15 team in New Jersey.

Central Group III 3rd place
Another victim of the Group III talent swarm, please know that this Monroe team was very, very strong all season.  They went undefeated in conference play, 14-0 / 53-3, and made it stick by winning the GMC team tournament, defeating Edison in the finals.  Monroe's 159.6 GA was 14th in the state and they went as high as 2632 in the regular season, and 2716 in the GMC finals. And they did it all without a single bowler averaging over 180; Bridget Bolan is a good bet to change that stat in 2018.

South Group IV 4th place
Another squad with a strong regular season (10-1 / 40-4), solid numbers (157.1 GA) and an impressive season-high: 2632.  While they didn't perform as well as they would have liked at sectionals, this team started three sophomores (Patricia O'Neill, Shannon O'Neill and Diana Chan) that averaged over 160, which marks them as a team to watch very closely in 2017-18.

North Group III 4th place
PC's 157.9 GA is significantly higher than anyone else not ranked ahead of them.  Join that with second place at the Bergen, fourth at the Crusader and a solid performance at sectionals, and I think it's clear I was underrating them all season.  Went 68-23 against a brutal Big North schedule (3 matches against AHA & Teaneck).  Kristen Kane put an exclamation point on her excellent career with 299/760 at the Bergen.

State Group I champs, North Group I runnerup
I should have known better than to underestimate Kristen Benavente and Coach Daniel Rattacasa.  The Cardinals shook off a tough start that included ninth at the Crusader, and ran a wave of team-wide improvement all the way to another state title.  Benavente finished off the most successful career in program history, including winning two state titles, by firing a 592 at states to lead her team to the win. Yes, I believe in the regular season, and I believe in the overall stats, but a team that wins a state title is wholly deserving of a spot in the top 20.

State Group I runnerup, Central Group I champs
This could have gone a number of ways, but Carteret was the closest to a state title among the contenders for #20, and probably had the best regular season as well, going 15-3 / 60-12 in the GMC. With no true "star" to rely on (Ashley Espy led the team at 162), this was a team that needed everybody to fire to win, and they did it successfully all season long, coming up just 45 pins short of a state championship.


Bergen Tech (North Group IV champs)
Central Regional
Colts Neck (Central Group II runnerup)
Demarest (North Group II runnerup)
Gloucester Tech
North Brunswick
Ramsey (State Group I 3rd place, North Group I champs)


Matawan (Central Group I runnerup)
Kearny (North Group IV runnerup)
East Brunswick (Central Group IV runnerup)
Donovan Catholic (South Group I champs)
Collingswood (South Group I runnerup)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Season in Review - Boys Final Rankings

This was, with no exaggeration, the hardest thing I've tried to do all year, bar none.  Final rankings are always inherently difficult, as we try to find the balance between regular season accomplishments and performance in postseason tournaments, mindful of differences in competition level.  But when the team that wins the toughest Group Final, and does it with the highest TOC total in the state, was unranked coming into sectionals?  When the #1 team in the state doesn't make it to the TOC because of a crazy-loaded sectional field?  This was tough.  I have no doubt that my conclusions will find little agreement, but I've looked at this extensively and tinkered more than I care to admit. Hell, I made at least three minor changes while writing this up.  Anyway, here's what I came up with. Fire away.


State TOC champs, State Group IV champs, Central Group IV champs
Well, this one was easy, at least.  The Bears hung in the top five all season, sporting a huge 207 GA (3rd in NJ) doing well at the James (2nd), CJWC (3rd) and GMC team (1st, going 8-1 in games).  Sam Bortnick (224 avg) and Daniel Lenk (216) were excellent all season; when James Reitano and Jack Deruvo got hot at sectionals, we all saw just how dominant a group this could be when it counted.  They made a huge comeback to overtake South Brunswick and win the state title, and looked virtually unbeatable in the Baker playoffs.  Just an extraordinarily talented group that peaked at the exact right time.

State Group IV 3rd place, South Group IV champs
When a team with top-flight numbers (#5 in GA, bowling in true-5 format) wins the toughest sectional under the sun and shoots 3103 to finish third at states, I think that's enough to be #2.  Excellent regular season, going 14-1-1 in a very tough Olympic, winning the Olympic tournament, and putting up a 3404 season-high set.  This senior-laden group, including the state's very best 1-2 punch in Andy Abbonizio and Chris Pagliuso, came up just short on their state-title quest, but certainly had a season to remember.

State Group III runnerup, Central Group III runnerup
This is where things get sticky.  I know Monroe beat the Barrons at both sectionals and states.  But I can't discount this whole season, in which Woodbridge averaged a state-best 212, won the James, Wheeler, and Brick Tournaments, came in second at CJWC, put up a state-best 3536 series, and went an absurd 17-1 / 66-6 in GMC play, based on a couple of bad games in the postseason.  This insanely deep group (nine different bowlers shot 600 at some point) was led by two of the best, James Stoveken and Kyle Bilawsky, got huge contributions from John Drost, among many others, and earned their lofty ranking all season long.

South Group IV third place
Everything I said about Woodbridge applies here, too.  Before you start howling, note that this is literally the only team in the top 20 that did not make the TOC.  They were just too damn good to rank any lower, even if they were beaten by two top-10 teams at sectionals.  Another crazy deep squad, the Mustangs won the CJWC and the Shore Conference tournament, went 17-1 in regular season matches against the toughest division in NJ, finished 2nd at Snowball, 3rd at James, 2nd at Brick and 1st at RWTI.  I'm sure Andrew Lazarchick, Alec Hehir, John Boughton and the rest are disappointed that their season ended early, but we're going to recognize an amazing season with a high ranking.

State Group III third place, South Group III champs
Yes, one more squad whose brilliant regular season can't be discounted because of a disappointing state final.  First (and second) at RWTI, 3rd at Snowball, top qualifier at the Shore tournament, and a fantastic 205 GA (as a true-5 team).  Mike Laycock, Chris Swindell and Kyle Oliveri were one the most fearsome top threes in the state.  The Indians never quite found their rhythm at Bowlero, but I'm sticking to my belief that they were as good as anybody in 2017.

State Group IV runnerup, Central Group IV runnerup
I noted a few weeks ago that I may be underrating and undercovering the Vikings this season; they sure went out and proved it in the postseason: Second in the GMC tournament (topping Woodbridge in the semis), second in the sectional, second at states, and all three times were only defeated by the #1 team, East Brunswick.  It's impressive what a well-balanced, talented team can do: Kohutanycz, Li, Fama, Ang and Delacruz were all capable of leading the team, and the team was greater than its parts at states, nearly pulling off the upset.  Three of those starters return next year to try to finish the job.

TOC runnerup, State Group I champs, Central Group I champs
Tough as nails, this team. Made up a 40-pin deficit with a huge 1083 game to take a state title, hung tough in a brutal Baker semifinal win over Monroe, defeated a very talented Ocean Township team in winning their Shore Conference division. Great tournament resume even before states: 2nd at RWTI, 4th at CJWC, 2nd at Shore.  The Warriors rely heavily on superstar Austin Devereux, but their success at this level is also due to huge contributions from Chris Heilos, Dylan Wolfe and Kyle Bauter.

State Group II champs, North 1B Group II champs
Hard to believe I had this team out of the rankings at Christmas; they've been nothing short of great ever since.  91-7 in winning the NJAC North, won the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex tournament by a fair margin. Came back from 169 pins down after 1 game to win their second straight state title.  Really wonderful season for the Mustangs; Joey Steele and Tim Zayac may have been the top two bowlers in their conference.  It shouldn't be forgotten that Sussex Tech bowled extremely well in the TOC semifinals; there's just not much you can do when your opponent fires damn near 800.

State Group IV 4th place, South Group IV runnerup
Only 69 pins away from a state title after a rough first game.  CHE had a great postseason, starting with a huge 3149 to deny Brick Memorial a TOC slot.  The Cougars were impressive right from the beginning this season, taking 3rd at the Olympic, 5th at the Snowball, and going 12-1-1 in conference matches, including a straight-up win over Shawnee.  Anthony Mathis is one of the best freshmen to come along in a long time; he and Kyle Winter will anchor next year's team after graduation takes Adam Crognale and Emerson Levy.

State Group III 7th place, South Group III runnerup
Impossibly deep roster seemed on the verge of jumping into that group at the very top but never quite got there: 4th at James, 4th at Wheeler, 3rd at Brick, 4th at Shore... I think we have to call it luck, 'cause it certainly wasn't lack of talent.  Jordan Malizia was among the best in the Shore Conference, best in the state, all season long, and bowlers like Nick Gross, Kyle Chirichello and Nick Kafarski all showed the capability of going big.  When you have a whole bunch of great teams at a tournament, somebody's going to have an off day.  Dragons return a metric ton of talent for 2017-18.

State Group III champs, Central Group III champs
The most surprising team result of the entire postseason, by a huge margin.  Monroe just missed each of my last two state rankings, finished 11th in their only in-season tournament (CJWC) lost in the GMC quarterfinals, and carried a GA just outside the top 20 despite being in a 6/5 league.  Then the Falcons went out and beat Woodbridge to win the sectional.  Then they flat-out whipped the most loaded state final field in the state, running away with the championship by 137 pins with a state-best 3227, crushing their season-high by 100 pins.  Louis Folgore is a legitimate star and Ryley McKiernan is very good, but this was something else.  Zack Volkman and Zac Waynor beat their averages by a combined 240 pins, for goodness sake.  I can't put them any higher than this without making the regular season look pointless, but this was an extraordinary performance.

State Group II runnerup, North 2 Group II champs
Three pins away from a state title has got to be a tough pill to swallow, but this group of Mustangs, mostly seniors including Peter Ho and superstar Erik Kattermann, who wrapped up a remarkable career, has a lot to be proud of.  They went 98-0 against a pretty good league in the NJAC South, won the New Year's team challenge, placed 2nd at the Irwin, took the Morris County tournament and finished with a 197 true-5 GA after a tough start.

State Group II 4th place, Central Group II runnerup
One of the best teams in the state all season, by the numbers, OT finished with a fantastic GA of 201.6, took the LB Wave tournament and finished a strong 5th at CJWC.  Things just didn't fire during the postseason: 3rd at Monmouth, 8th at Shore.  They beat some good teams just to make states, and looked like their old selves, only 34 pins back after 2 games, but had a tough game 3.   Very strong lineup included juniors Matt Redbord and Douglas Rhoades, who will return to give it another run in 2018.

State Group II 3rd place, Central Group II champs
Strong regular season (13-4-1 in tough GMC division); lack of tournament resume pre-NJSIAA is the only knock against them.  One of those fun, balanced teams that's capable of scoring big just because they all rise up together.  Joe Chrobak is a 210-average stud, and he had a bunch of guys in the 190s throwing numbers and making this a dangerous tournament team, capable of beating teams like Ocean Townshp.  Next year, Hoban, Biacamano, Santiago & Reggio will have to find a way to do it again without Chrobak, and I'm not betting against them.

State Group I runnerup, North 1B Group I champs
Manasquan shot past them to snatch the state title, but this was a damn fine team all season long.  They went 14-0 / 96-2 in the NJIC-Colonial, had three different bowlers (Cilento, Garcia, Neil) shoot 300, and won the Passaic County tournament before becoming sectional champs and state runnersup.  Former state individual champ Nick Cilento finished off a wonderful career with a 224 regular season average.

State Group III 4th place, North 1A Group III runnerup
State Group III 9th place, North 1A Group III champs
The two best teams in the Big North have been linked in my mind all season.  They go about things in different ways: Indian Hills has four great bowlers (Jared Duncan [218] and Jon Mormando [212] led the way, Ryan McGuire and Jack Miller both also excellent), and they bowl every single game.  Pascack Valley rotates in six good bowlers, topped by Brian Biml's 200 and Henry Tipping's 198.  Both had phenomenal regular seasons: IH was 97-8, PV was 112-14.  Each had only one loss, and each was kind of inexplicable.  IH had the better GA, but PV looked more tournament-ready.  I had Valley ahead most of the season, but Hills' GA lead grew to ten pins, so they took the lead in the last rankings.  They were in the same sectional, same group, because of course they were.  IH smoked PV at sectionals by 246 pins.  PV returned the favor at states, winning by 170 and taking 4th.  The final ranking comes down to this: they bowled in the same event five times, and Valley came out ahead in four of them (including winning both the Irwin and the Bergen).  If they bowled each other ten more times (and I'd buy a ticket to that), they would go 5-5, but this is where we're at,

State Group II 8th place, South Group II champs
Postseason scores were a bit underwhelming if we're being honest, but this was a very talented team, from Jacob Boris (216 avg) on down.  The four-game 4341 these guys put up at the Snowball was one of the very best performances by any team all season.  That, a strong 9-2-1 regular season against a tough schedule, and the #14 GA (197.3) earn the Golden Eagles a top-twenty ranking without question.

State Group III 8th place, North 2 Group III champs
This team shoots 3000 more often than you would expect, looking at the averages.  Eric Lawson (211) is excellent, and Darryl Price (199) is very good, but after that it's several in the 180s.  No matter, they come together into an impressive whole pretty regularly: 62-1 in conference play, strong 6th at the CJWC and the best team score at the entire North 2 sectional.  Bad final game at states did them in, but this was a worthy top-20 team all season long.

State Group III 3rd place, North 1B Group III champs
As it was happening, Wayne Hills finishing 3rd at states was just as surprising to me as Monroe winning the thing.  It shouldn't have been though; the Patriots were pretty good all season long, and they found another gear when freshman Tom Luchetta started getting playing time (Nick Kent and Patrick Mayer had the two high averages among season-long regulars).  Wayne Hills' 187.5 GA doesn't reflect how good they became late in the year.  Only eight teams in the entire state managed to crack 3000 at both sectionals and states, and these guys were one of them.  That'll get you a top-20 spot.


Bishop Ahr (Central Group I runnerup)
Central Regional
Dickinson (North 1B Group IV champs)
Egg Harbor
Hawthorne (North 1B Group II runnerup)
Hudson Catholic (North 1B Group I runnerup)
Lacey (South Group II runnerup)
Lyndhurst (North 1A Group II runnerup)
Old Bridge
St. Rose
Toms River North


Livingston (North 2 Group IV champs)
Jackson Memorial
St. Peter's Prep (North 1B Group IV runnerup)
Ridgewood (North 1A Group IV runnerup)
Scotch Plains (North 2 Group III runnerup)
Fort Lee (North 1A Group II champs)
Cinnaminson (South Group I champs)
Roselle Park (North 2 Group I champs, State Group I 3rd place)
Union (North 2 Group IV runnerup)
Sparta (North 1B Group III runnerup)
Hasbrouck Heights (North 1A Group I champs)
Maple Shade (South Group I runnerup)
Northern Highlands (North 1A Group IV champs)
Becton (North 1A Group I runnerup)
Jefferson (North 2 Group II runnerup)
Dayton (North 2 Group I runnerup)

Friday, February 24, 2017

State Finals Wrapup - Boys Team TOC


This was a pretty amazing day; three of the four groups went right down to the wire and involved big comebacks while at the same time nearly every team in the mix had a good final game.  The other was the biggest upset of the season.  Lots of fun at Bowlero, great way to end the season.

nj.com story and results

We expected Pompton Lakes to be a big factor here, and they came out swinging, shooting a big 1054 behind Esteban Garcia (266) and Nick Cilento (253). The other expected contender, Manasquan, wasn't far behind, thanks to a 238 by Austin Devereux and a huge 290 game by Dylan Wolfe. Roselle Park looked good, with Sean Fava's 266 leading to a 985 team game, and Hudson Catholic shot a balanced 967.  But the big story was Maple Shade, only ten pins behind the leaders after Dan Kenny's 289 helped his team to a 1044.

Game two separated the top four from the rest: Another solid number from Roselle Park (994, led by Luis Castano's 247) left them 87 pins back. Devereux's 237 kept Manasquan in striking distance after a 1022 game.  Maple Shade showed they weren't going away when Evan Deibert (233) and Victor Diaz (248) helped them to a 985 game.  But Pompton was still on top, posting a 1012 game with a big 258 from David Neil; the lead after two games was just 37 pins.

Some pretty good-sized sparks flew in the final game. Becton & Dayton finished 8th and 9th, but each posted their highest sets of the season.  Hudson Catholic put up a monster 1104 with all five at 200+ (Jivan Persaud 245 and Geoffrey Origenes 226 led the way), but the hole was a bit too deep and they finished fifth.  Maple Shade faded just a bit and wound up fourth, but their season-high series of 2970 (and Diaz & Kenny going 684-682) meant it was a great day.  Castano put up 235, Aaron Heimall 234 and Sean Fava finished a 666 set, which put Roselle Park at 1060/3039, beating their season-high by over 200 pins and taking third place.

Pompton Lakes didn't fold: Garcia (221-689) and Cilento (223-656) powered a 975/3041.  But Manasquan had an awful lot in the tank in the final game, as Wolfe (244-703), Kyle Bauter (245) and Devereux (226-701) took the Warriors to a huge 1083 game, a 3110 set, and the state Group I championship.

None of the teams in Group II put up a season-high, but that didn't make it any less exciting.  Erik Kattermann's 226, Matt Chang's 230 and a huge 290 from Peter Ho got Montville off to a great start, posting an 1132 in game one (the biggest game any of the 40 teams would shoot all day).  Lacey was a surprise sitting in second, as big games by Clayton Humcke (224), Brian Huebler (237) and John Truland (267) led to a 1086. Doug Rhoades' 257 game helped Ocean Township put up 1031, and this was looking like a 3 team breakaway with the other seven at least 155 pins back.

Except it wasn't; not really.  Montville slid a bit, but maintained a 34 pin lead after two, and Ocean Township was even better than the first game, with Brian Davis's 247 helping them to a 1050 game. Two other ranked teams crashed the party as well: John Hoban (248) and Joe Chrobak (237) powered St. Joseph's to a 1062 game and moved them into fourth place, and the defending champs from Sussex Tech forged a 1083 game behind Tim Zayac's 279 and moved into 3rd. The top four were within 86 pins, and it was anyone's title to take.

James Podolski (721) and Jacob Boris (669) put up strong sets for Lyndhurst and Seneca, respectively, but their teams couldn't quite get into contention in this strong field.

In game three, Hoban (235-651) and Chrobak (228-689) were great again for St. Joe's (1012-3041), but they couldn't quite make up the distance.  Montville put up another strong game, 992, with Peter Ho (223-701) and Matt Chang (237-659) leading the way, and finished at 3107.  But Sussex Tech had it rolling by now, with all five bowlers at 195+, a 248 from Chris Strum and Zayac finishing a 702 set, and the Mustangs took their second straight state championship by just three pins over... the other Mustangs.

How do I put this?  There were 40 NJSIAA postseason team bowling events in 2017.  This result probably surprised me more than the other 39 combined.  Monroe is a good team, with a great anchor, Louis Folgore, and a strong #2 in Ryley McKiernan, but Group III, the most loaded Group in the state (7 of the 10 teams broke 1000 in game 1), had serious powerhouses with huge averages up and down the lineup like Woodbridge, Toms River South, Brick Township and Indian Hills, as well as ranked teams Pascack Valley and Warren Hills.  The Falcons simply went out and lit the place up, shooting the highest score in each of the three games.  It was amazing.  Folgore (676) and McKiernan (625), did their jobs, and the scores from the rest were mind-boggling: Trevor Kresan, 171 average: 600.  Zac Waynor, 179 average: 644.  Zack Volkman, 183 average: 225-235-222=682.  After one game, you think, ok, nice job, but let's watch the big boys run them down.  Instead, Monroe just got better, and even though Woodbridge went 1068-1047 the last two, they lost by 137 pins.  Bowling is supposed to be, should be, an any-given-Sunday type sport at this level, but so rarely do we get to see something like this.  Exceptionally well done.

There were some good stories down the list: James Stoveken of Woodbridge put up a monster 760 and teammate Kyle Bilawsky posted 677.  Jon Mormando shot 697 for Indian Hills.  Jaime Golden led Sparta to a solid 6th place finish with a 649 in her final high school action (great career, Jaime.)  Wayne Hills got four 600s to finish a surprising 3rd, posting a 3018 set to complete an excellent postseason, and beating the top two teams from their conference in the process.

All right, I whiffed badly on Group III, but I had a pretty good handle on this one: the top four teams in Group IV were a significant cut above the other six and pretty even with each other: they would all finish within 69 pins.  To be fair, Dickinson had a great day, staying in the mix through at least game one and shooting a season-high 2955, mostly because Matthew Burzynski (280-246-248=774) is on an absolutely amazing roll in the postseason (Ray Ramos's 646 helped a bunch, too.)

After game one, it looked like maybe South Brunswick would leave everyone in the dust.  Despite missing regular starter Noah Li, the Vikings got big games from Anthony Fama (246), Nick Delacruz (229) and Chan Woo Ang (254) and posted a big 1105 game, taking a 114-pin lead on the field.

But the South Brunswick train slowed down in game two... well, except for Delacruz who tossed a sweet 287 that kept his team from a serious tumble.  Their 990 allowed the other contenders to play some catchup:  Adam Crognale (222) and Anthony Mathis (223) helped Cherry Hill East to a 1058 game.  Jack Deruvo (239) and Daniel Lenk (224) led East Brunswick to a 1059 game.  And Shawnee's senior superstars, Andrew Abbonizio and Chris Pagliuso, powered the Renegades' 1071 (we'll get back to them.)  The top four were all within 48 pins with one game to go.

South Brunswick gave no groud in the final game.  Fama shot 242 to complete a 668, Tyler Kohutanycz shot 233, Delacruz finished off a 698 set and Chan Woo Ang put up a strong 257 to wind up at 699.  1057 was the game and 3152 was the set the others had to chase.

CHE gave it their best shot, with Emerson Levy posting 222 and Mathis finishing a 675 set with a big 269 game, but they couldn't make up any ground with a 1050 game.  Tyler Gates's 220 helped Shawnee shoot a very solid 1049, but again, not quite enough.  Abbonizio (244-242-245=731) and Pagliuso (258-257-223=738) were absolutely brilliant throughout the day, ending any debate about the best 1-2 punch in the state this year.

That left East Brunswick. The Bears needed to put up an 1100 to take the title, and with all five guys breaking 200, they got it done, posting an 1116 game for a 3166 set and a 14-pin victory.  Stars Lenk (208) and Sam Bortnick (228) did well, but this team effort needed everyone, and big games from James Reitano (234) and 191-average Ethan Shamin (245) make all the difference.  A 3166 series without a single bowler over 644 is its own brand of awesome.  Sincere compliments to each of the top four teams in Group IV.

Official awards for high series aren't given out, so I'll list the top 10 here (with thanks to Bryan Vargas for compiling the data).

1. Matthew Burzynski, Dickinson  774
2. James Stoveken, Woodbridge  760
3. Chris Pagliuso, Shawnee  738
4. Andrew Abbonizio, Shawnee  731
5. James Podolski, Lyndhurst  721
6. Dylan Wolfe, Manasquan  703
7. Tim Zayac, Sussex Tech  702
8. Austin Devereux, Manasquan  701
9. Peter Ho, Montville  701
10. Chan Woo Ang, South Brunswick  699

Sussex Tech looked great in the Baker semifinals, putting up incredibly strong 236-241 the first two games.  Unfortunately, East Brunswick looked close to unbeatable, stuffing the pocket for 11 strikes in game 1 (298) and throwing enough strikes to take game 2 with a 246.  The third game was a runaway, 245-169, and the Bears advanced after shooting a Baker set of 789 (that's good, right?)

The other semifinal was a war of attrition, as Manasquan and Monroe had trouble hitting the pocket as well as converting spares. It went the full five games, with Manasquan pulling away at the end. Only two of the ten Baker games broke 200, which didn't seem like a good sign for 'Squan heading into the finals.

It wasn't.  Manasquan kept game 1 close before Lenk & Bortnick put it away 224-201, and stole a very close game 2 191-188, but the rest of the match wasn't close: East Brunswick carried extremely well, and just like in the girls' final, they had a left anchor who didn't seem even capable of missing the pocket (aside from the fill ball on the 298).  Manasquan had a great day and took a deserved state title home, but the best team won.  Congrats to the Bears.

All right, now the silly season starts for me.  Final Boys & Girls Rankings next week.  Boys & Girls All-State teams sometime after that, then a stupidly early look at 2017-18, and some final thoughts on the season.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

State Finals Wrapup - Boys Individual TOC


The boys' scores were just as off-the-charts as the girls'.  Nothing wrong with the shot at Bowlero, is what I guess I'm saying. (Sorry this is so late.)

Here's nj.com's story.

High scores started coming right away, as 13 boys shot 240+ in game one, including South Jersey individual champ Andrew Abbonizio of Shawnee (240), Watchung Hills' Ethan Goldring (256), and Dickinson's Ray Ramos (246).  But the biggest number was thrown by the bowler probably most grateful to be there.  Austin Devereux of Manasquan, who won the Central Jersey title, was unable to attend, which gave St. Rose sophomore Joey Ocello a second chance, and he made the most of it with a big 279 right out of the box.  Ocello would make the cut with a 716 set and finish in 14th overall.

The numbers just got bigger in game two; much bigger.  Eighteen shot 240+, including: Joahnn Gamo of Clifton (257), Eric Lawson of Warren Hills (254), Jack Deruvo of East Brunswick (268), Louis Folgore of Monroe (252), Sean Harris of Cinnaminson (268), Ryan McGuire of Indian Hills (242), Josh Bottieri of Jackson Liberty (245) and Nicholas Solina of Gloucester Tech (246).

There were even bigger scores at the top.  David Grant of Fort Lee shot 278 after 246 in game one, which moved him into fourth place.  Egg Harbor's Matthew Stephens (256-279) and Jared Duncan of Indian Hills (245-290) each now had a pair of huge scores, and were tied for second. One of the great stories of the postseason continued as well, as Rashee Coe of Bayonne had apparently left his 168 average far, far behind, following up his 667 at sectionals with a 236-269 start at states. But sitting at the top was North 1-B champ Matthew Burzynski of Dickinson, who had gone out very strong with 258-279.

Things settled down a bit for the stressful third game. Doug Titmas of Old Bridge (268) and Justin Rinaldi of Hasbrouck Heights (243) admirably put up big games despite having very little shot at making the cut.  Joey Steele of Sussex Tech (228-668) and Lawson (234-667) also showed no quit, but came up just short of the 686 cutline. Egg Harbor's Jason Pesce got even closer, but his 195-256-233=684 missed by just 2 pins.

Westampton Tech's Jordan Shackleford (699), Justin Pavlik of Ridge (695), Nick Greco of Fair Lawn (687) and Aaron Heimall of Roselle Park (686), all bowled well and survived to the afternoon despite the crazy-high cut.  Thirteen boys posted scores over 700, including Rob Murray of Morris Knolls (716), Steve Nicholsen of Jackson Memorial (728) and Anthony Mathis of Cherry Hill East (734) who had put up solid numbers all morning.  James Stoveken of Woodbridge was already looking good before he left no doubt in game three, firing 278 to complete a 761 set that put him into a tie for 4th with Burzynski. Dayton's Evan Weinberg shrugged off a 193 in game one to card 279-266 and rise up to sixth place at the break.

Other than Stoveken's run, not much changed near the top, as every one of them was still tossing strong games: Grant's 246-278-256=780 was on top, followed closely by Duncan (245-290-238-=773), and Stephens (256-279-236=771).

Three bowlers were escpecially impressive, putting up a big game three to come back from a non-qualifying position to make the cut.  Dumont's Kyle Schellberg shot 244 to move from 21st to 13th (704), Cameron LaPlant of JP Stevens shot a great 274 to move to 12th place (707) all the way from 32nd after two.  And sitting in 11th place after his 247 pulled him up from 19th with a 710 set was a young man from Steinert named Ryan Carlisi.

It became evident very quickly that the advancers round would belong to two bowlers: Matthew Stephens and James Stoveken went absolutely nuts.  Stoveken followed up his 771 with a 278-257-277=812 and Stephens was somehow even better, carding a massive 267-278-290=835 for an overall 1606.  Even on a very-high scoring day overall, nobody would finish within 90 pins of these two stars.

But the battle for the other three stepladder spots was tremendous.  Game four saw Schellberg shoot 247 to jump up to 8th and Carlisi post 249 to move up to 7th, while Nicholsen's 248 elevated him to 4th.  Eleven bowlers were within 68 pins after four, all with talent and a fair shot to make the finals.

Things got a little clearer in game 5: every one of the top seven after the fifth had just shot 235+ (as did Aaron Heimall a little further down the standings).  Nicholsen's 290 was the big number, and it put the Jackson Memorial senior into third place.  Grant stood in fourth after a strong 249, and moving into fifth with his fourth consecutive game of 247+ was Carlisi.  Weinberg, Mathis (coming off a 247), Burzynski and Ocello were all in the hunt for the last couple of spots.

Nobody got in cheap:  Carlisi took third with a 259 game that completed a fantastic 787 set and 1497 total.  Nicholsen finished off a very impressive 728-752 for fourth place.  Fifth place came down to Grant and Weinberg, and the Dayton junior took the final spot: it took every bit of the 259 he shot in game six, as the margin was only seven pins.

Grant (1448), Mathis (1418) and Burzynski (1400) finished 6-7-8, all averaging over 233 and none putting up a particularly bad game.  It was just a brutal field.  Duncan (1397, 9th) and Shackleford (252 final game, 1393 total, 10th) were also excellent.  Heimall made a great surge the final two games: after making the cut on the number, he finished 258-236 for a 1380 total and 11th place.

Schellberg (247-185-238), Coe (248-181-245) and Ocello (224-227-180) finished 12-13-14, each the victim of just one bad game, and each of them bowled fantastic otherwise.  Greco was very solid in the afternoon, shooting a consistent 655; it just wasn't quite enough on this day.  LaPlant, Murray and Pavlik completed the top 18, none quite able to match their morning performance.

Just based on the scores, none of the stepladder matches were particularly close.  Weinberg survived game one against Nicholsen, 196-166, but ran into the buzzsaw that Ryan Carlisi had become 235-186 in game two.

Neither James Stoveken nor Matthew Stephens, who were both amazing for six games in qualifying, could quite get it working enough to stay with Carlisi, who shot 235-237-244=716 during the stepladder to take his three matches and take a well-earned championship.

A bowler whose school doesn't have a team winning the individual title is not unprecedented (Raychel Waltz of Nottingham did it a three years ago), but it's still quite an accomplishment to go to both sectionals and this giant, beautiful mess of an event without the support system of teammates and perform so well.  Congratulations to Ryan for his deserved title, and to Matthew, James, Evan and Steve for bowling so incredibly well under serious pressure.

I'm waiting on the Boys TOC wrapup until I have bowler-level data (hopefully in a day or two), because there are at least four very good stories to tell, and I can't really tell them without the numbers.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

State Finals Wrapup - Girls Individual TOC


After the CJWC, where scores were down, and the Girls Central sectional, where scores were down, and the Girls Team TOC, where scores were down for the most part, one could have wondered what the individual TOC had in store for 120 of the best high school bowlers in New Jersey.  We didn't need to worry.

Here's nj.com's story.

It looked pretty normal at the start. Fifty-one bowlers, all somewhere between pretty good and fantastic, started at 9:30, each bowling 3 games, with the top 18 making the first cut.  Katie Robb of Kingsway threw a huge 279, Pennsauken's Michelle Bello shot 245, and superstar freshman Kamerin Peters of Toms River North posted 237, but none of the other 48 broke 217.  Things would escalate quickly in game two.

After picking up a spare in the first, Peters would proceed to drill 11 strikes in a row for a monster 290 game, which was the highest game ever bowled by a girl at the state tournament level.  Jackson Memorial powerhouse Aimee Sherman was right behind with 279, and another six girls cracked 220, including Sarah Smith of Manasquan (225) and Madison Perry of Hawthorne, whose 242 moved her into fifth overall. (Not that she knew; scoring standings during competition are something of a mystery during this event, which makes the wait for the advancers announcement excruciating.)

Game 3 is always a pressure-cooker.  The few at the top who are reasonably safe to advance need to keep scoring well to keep their position, while everyone else is fighting the cutline.  The girls at the top certainly met their goal: Peters (237-290-246=773), Sherman (214-279-257=750) and Robb (279-213-225=717) each finished off spectacular series, and South sectional champ Michelle Bello of Pennsauken (245-233-214=692) was right behind.  Jill Stuart of Brick Memorial was in 5th (673) after her second straight game over 240, and Brick Township's Julianna Forbes was in seventh (661) on the strength of 248-229 in games 2 & 3.  Millburn senior Lauren Potechin (622) and two-time stepladder participant Alize Stevenson of St. Mary's (639) carded solid scores and clearly had a chance to make a run at the top five

Further down were the stories of the bowlers staring down the cut in game three:  Jaime Golden of Sparta jumped from 17th to 9th with a 246.  Freehold Township's Clare Chaffer staved off elimination with a 225 game, leaping her 12 spots to 16th (588).  Samantha Salzone of Edison fired a 234 game that moved her from 30th place into a qualifying spot at 14th (593).  And after sitting precariously in 16th after two, defending champ Lanasia Neal of South Plainfield punched her ticket with a 236 that vaulted her into 10th (622).

Four bowlers made valiant efforts but came up a handful of pins short: Arielle Wallace of Hackensack, Victoria Vucak of Paramus Catholic, Brick Township's Cailyn Ryan and Union Catholic's Goldera Surles each broke 200 in game three, but missed the cut by five pins or less. Sarah Florence of Cedar Creek (588), Wayne Valley's Claudie Rosca (583), Freehold Township freshman Sarah Orensky (593) and Ocean Township's Jenn Ingulli (577) each survived the morning session.

There were several big scores in the first game of the afternoon:  Peters shot 247, making it clear she was going to stay hot.  Neal and Perry each shot 228, pushing them to 9th & 8th respectively.  Golden put up 244, jumping her from 9th place all the way to 4th.  Warren Hills freshman Kelcie Mannon posted a nine-bagger 275 than ran her from 12th up to 5th.  And Jackson Memorial senior Aimee Sherman achieved perfection: shooting the first 300 in girls' state tournament history (breaking the record Peters had broken just a couple of hours earlier), and taking the overall lead: she and Peters had absurd 4-game scores, 1050-1020.

Peters took the lead back in game 5, 1257-1254, and Robb's 238 put her at 1171, which looked moderately safe.  Behind them, lots of big numbers were causing chaos in the standings.  Forbes's 258 moved her from 8th all the way up to 4th.  Stuart posted the highest game 5, 266, vaulting her to 5th.  Mannon's 209 put her in 6th.  Alize Stevenson crept up to 8th with a 224.  And oh by the way, that's the defending champ moving up from 11th at the cut to 7th behind a pair of 228s.  How tough was game five?  Chaffer entered the game in 13th, shot 236, and didn't move up at all.  (She would move up to 11th after six).

Headed to the final game, it looked like at least a half-dozen bowlers, and maybe even more, had a shot at the stepladder, but it was an illusion.  Peters (247-237-246) and Sherman (300-204-226) each finished with back-half 730 sets, and Robb's 216-238-216 was plenty good enough for 3rd.  No surprises there.  But Forbes, who had moved into fourth after five games, held on with both hands and put up a big 263 game (for a 714 set) to take the spot.  Stuart was excellent as well, defending 5th place with a 236 (completing a 670 set), which probably should have been enough to lock down her spot, but Lanasia Neal got it going big in game six, posting a 278 game that finished a 734 set and gave her the last spot in the stepladder by just 13 pins.

Missing the final despite very strong 2nd block scores were Stuart (670, 6th overall), Stevenson (636, 7th), Golden (638, 8th), Potechin (637, 9th) and Chaffer (635, 11th).  Bello, Mannon and Perry faded a bit to 10th,12th and 13th.  Salzone, Florence, Orensky, Rosca and Ingulli never quite got going in the afternoon and finished 14th through 18th.

Both Neal and Forbes came into the 4/5 match hot, but Forbes was just a little hotter, taking the opening match 224-207, and the 2016 champ would finish 5th after a really impressive afternoon run.  The Brick Township junior wouldn't cool down against Robb either, defeating the Kingsway junior 258-214.  Robb's 4th place finish included a fantastic seven game total of 1601, a 228.7 average.

Julianna Forbes stayed just as hot in the next match, firing a 233 game that gave her a 715 set during the stepladder, after she had just shot 714 to get into it.  But Sherman was just too much, shooting 247 to win the semifinal and ending Forbes's incredible run.

And so it came down to, by almost any measure, the top two bowlers of the 2016-17 season, Toms River North freshman Kamerin Peters and Jackson Memorial senior Aimee Sherman.  Heading into the championship match, Peters was averaging 250.5 for the day, Sherman 246.7.  Those numbers are just silly.  I can't say enough about how excellent these two have been all year. Somebody had to win, and the senior took the title, 194-192.  Amazing bowling all around: all of the finalists truly had to earn it.  Congratulations to Aimee, Kamerin, Julianna, Katie and Lanasia.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

State Finals Preview - Boys Team TOC

Friday, February 17 at Bowlero Carolier, North Brunswick

Forty of the best boys bowling teams in New Jersey will gather on Friday morning.  Four of them will walk out of the building as state champions, and one of those four will be the Tournament of Champions winner as well.  Let's meet the teams.

Team score in parentheses is score from sectional tournament.  GA is season-long Game Average. Bowlers listed are projected starters. All bowler averages are conference play only.  More detailed commentary on most teams appears in the applicable sectional preview.

defending champ: Roselle Park

MANASQUAN (#8 overall, #1 in Group I)
1st in Central (2913)    GA: 198.1
Austin Devereux (228), Kyle Bauter (199), Chris Heilos (203), John Commesso (177), Dylan Wolfe (193)

POMPTON LAKES (#14 overall, #2 in Group I)
1st in North 1B (2813)    GA: 198.3
Cole Mulholland (176), Michael Milligan (183), David Neil (203), Esteban Garcia (201), Nick Cilento (224)

HUDSON CATHOLIC (unranked overall, #5 in Group I)
2nd in North 1B (2795)    GA: 186.1
Steven Beck (179), Geoffrey Origenes (207), James Pabilonia (181), Ashook Persaud (170), Jivan Persaud (190)

BISHOP AHR (unranked overall, #6 in Group I)
2nd in Central (2889)    GA: 188.2
Andrew Funk (196), Kyle Heyman (190), Erik Gonzalez (191), Bryce McCall (182), Spencer Tardy (164)

CINNAMINSON (unranked overall, #9 in Group I)
1st in South (2794)    GA: 180.0
Sean Harris (196), Dillon Siddiqi (165), Abdul-Raof Zeidieh (unknown), Ronnie Runquist (181), Eddie Runquist (186)

ROSELLE PARK (unranked overall, #10 in Group I)
1st in North 2 (2787)    GA: 176.3
Aaron Heimall (197), Jarrod Hall (200), Sean Fava (176), Luis Castano (163), Ryan Dubi (167)

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS (unranked overall, #11 in Group I)
1st in North 1A (2668)    GA: 178.3
Rachel Weber (172), Dylan Auriemma (171), Frankie Quatrone (188), Justin Rinaldi (180), Shawn Calhoun (174)

MAPLE SHADE (unranked overall, #12 in Group I)
2nd in South (2732)    GA: 172.0
Kyle Kelley (130), Ritik Patel (138), Evan Deibert (178), Dan Kenny (218), Victor Diaz (197)

BECTON (unranked overall, "next 3" in Group I)
2nd in North 1A (2606)    GA: 168.4
Andrew Park (174), Joseph Knoll (147), Robert Emord (183), Trevor Deliantis (206), Zak Kandiel (168)

DAYTON (unranked overall, "next 3" in Group I)
2nd in North 2 (2629)    GA: 167.1
Evan Weinberg (222), John Pannullo (178), Skyla Johnson (147), Scott Maran (148), Sean Martin (149)

Manasquan has to be the favorite, but after the craziness of the Central sectional, we have to make room for a lot of teams to make a run.  Pompton Lakes (probably the only team other than Manasquan capable of running away with it) and Bishop Ahr are serious contenders, and Hudson Catholic may have the horses to be right in it as well.

defending champ: Sussex Tech

OCEAN TOWNSHIP (#6 overall, #1 in Group II)
2nd in Central (2893)    GA: 201.8
Matt Redbord (217), Brian Davis (202), Logan Smith (202), Andrew Dorko (194), Douglas Rhoades (204)

MONTVILLE (#9 overall, #2 in Group II)
1st in North 2 (2763)    GA: 196.5
Erik Katterman (229), Matt Chang (191), Peter Ho (202), Adam Gelvan (196), Zach Kirshner (178)

SUSSEX TECH (#13 overall, #3 in Group II)
1st in North 1B (3156)    GA: 195.7
Chris Strum (195), Quinton Johnson (184), Joey Steele (213), Tim Zayac (213), Pat Danielson (186)

SENECA (#15 overall, #4 in Group II)
1st in South (2870)    GA: 197.9
Zach Malcolm (191), Mitch Tippin (179), Eddie Cashwell (196), Spencer Eckstein (202), Jacob Boris (215)

ST. JOSEPH-METUCHEN (#16 overall, #5 in Group II)
1st in Central (3025)    GA: 198.8
Justin Biancamano (194), John Reggio (185), Joe Chrobak (210), John Hoban (194), Giovanni Santiago (197)

LACEY (unranked overall, #6 in Group II)
2nd in South (2802)    GA: 189.7
Jordan Rensel (186), Clayton Humcke (187), John Truland (190), Brian Huebler (196), Nick Striffler (203)

LYNDHURST (unranked overall, #7 in Group II)
2nd in North 1A (2711)    GA: 191.1
Naomi Ramos (170), Tyla D'Andrea (186), James Podloski (192), Troy Villani (184), Ryan Donohue (223)

HAWTHORNE (unranked overall, #12 in Group II)
2nd in North 1B (2731)    GA: 189.1
Nick Hauser (181), Amanda Madara (155), Hunter Perry (195), Madison Perry (192), Steve Plaszky (200)

FORT LEE (unranked overall, unranked in Group II)
1st in North 1A (2945)    GA: 182.5
Luke Athanassopoulos (182), David Grant (223), Chris Park (158), Andrew Choi (168), Michael Choe (170)

JEFFERSON (unranked overall, unranked in Group II)
2nd in North 2 (2632)    GA: 170.9
Emma Thies (175), Bryan Harris (186), Nick Smeilus (127), Nick Thies (191), Brandon Vance (192)

A little separation statistically between the top five and the rest.  I don't care what the rankings say, picking a clear favorite among that top five is pure folly.  St. Joe's is the most consistent and balanced.  Seneca may have the highest ceiling.  Sussex Tech had the highest sectional total by quite a bit, and they're the defending champs.  Ocean Township has the best season-long numbers, both GA & T5.  Montville?  They just have the best bowler.  If I have to pick a favorite, that's as good a reason as any.  But truly, this is wide open.

defending champ: Sayreville

WOODBRIDGE (#2 overall, #1 in Group III)
2nd in Central (3015)    GA: 212.5
James Stoveken (226), John Drost (204), Kyle Bilawsky (217), Gabriel Navedo (197), Jason Bilawsky (200)

TOMS RIVER SOUTH (#3 overall, #2 in Group III)
1st in South (3118)    GA: 205.5
Kyle Oliveri (214), Jim Breslin (200), Andrew Xiques (197), Mike Laycock (219), Chris Swindell (213)

BRICK TOWNSHIP (#7 overall, #3 in Group III)
2nd in South (3096)    GA: 201.1
Nick Kafarski (208), Nick Gross (208), Kyle Chirichello (206), Jordan Malizia (228), Chris Shymanski (205)

INDIAN HILLS (#12 overall, #4 in Group III)
1st in North 1A (3103)    GA: 203.1
Jon Mormando (212), Jack Miller (195), Ryan McGuire (206), Jared Duncan (218), Andrew Smolenski (179)

PASCACK VALLEY (#18 overall, #5 in Group III)
2nd in North 1A (2857)    GA: 192.3
Tom Smith (195), Henry Tipping (198), Scott Morris (193), Brian Biml (200), Trevor Lauber (192)

WARREN HILLS (#19 overall, #6 in Group III)
1st in North 2 (3024)    GA: 195.2
Eric Lawson (211), Jake Irwin (188), Avante Wilson (189), Ryan Monahan (182), Darryl Price (196)

MONROE ("next 10" overall, #9 in Group III)
1st in Central (3039)    GA: 194.8
Louis Folgore (219), Ryley McKiernan (199), Tyler Kresan (171), Zack Volkmann (183), Zac Waynor (179)

WAYNE HILLS (unranked overall, #12 in Group III)
1st in North 1B (3063)    GA: 186.5
Patrick Mayer (192), Matt Klarberg (182), Nick Kent (186), Steve Neri (181), Tom Luchetta (203)

SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD (unranked overall, unranked in Group III)
2nd in North 2 (2851)    GA: 182.7
Specer Vaughn (188), Charles Butler (181), Grady Szuch (197), Mike Bonnell (172), Dan Grambor (176)

SPARTA (unranked overall, unranked in Group III)
2nd in North 1B (2733)    GA: 174.4
Brian Trotter (195), Sean Drew (155), John Ukstins (172), John DePreker (177), Jaime Golden (197)

My guess, and it's just that, a guess, is that one of those top four, Brick Township, Indian Hills, Woodbridge and Toms River South, will go absolutely huge.  Maybe one of the others can join them, maybe not, but I don't see 3100 taking this.  If I'm right, we'll get a blowout or a classic.  If I'm wrong, then Pascack, Warren Hills and Monroe may have a chance to get involved in a crazy glut of teams at the top.

defending champ: Brick Memorial

EAST BRUNSWICK (#4 overall, #2 in Group IV)
1st in Central (3400)    GA: 206.9
James Reitano (199), Sam Bortnick (223), Daniel Lenk (216), Jack Deruvo (190), Ethan Shamin (192)

SHAWNEE (#5 overall, #3 in Group IV)
1st in South (3175)    GA: 204.9
Andrew Abbonizio (223), Tyler Gates (186), Nick Simonetti (195), Evan McNally (205), Chris Pagliuso (228)

CHERRY HILL EAST (#10 overall, #4 in Group IV)
2nd in South (3149)    GA: 200.3
Adam Crognale (189), Kevin Babitz (182), Emerson Levy (213), Kyle Winter (195), Anthony Mathis (219)

SOUTH BRUNSWICK (#11 overall, #5 in Group IV)
2nd in Central (2903)    GA: 200.7
Tyler Kohutanycz (208), Noah Li (192), Anthony Fama (200), Chan Woo Ang (197), Nick Delacruz (197)

LIVINGSTON ("next 10" overall, #8 in Group IV)
1st in North 2 (2769)    GA: 189.6
Justin Schoenbach (182), Zachary Schwartz (185), Michael Liu (209), Alec Ammerata (176), Allen Cai (204)

ST. PETER'S PREP (unranked overall, "next 3" in Group IV)
2nd in North 1B (2896)    GA: 182.8
Jared Ammugauan (205), Kevin O'Mara (190), Zack Oswald (188), Lynken Lanting (179), Nick Cocciadiferro (168)

RIDGEWOOD (unranked overall, unranked in Group IV)
2nd in North 1A (2774)    GA: 184.8
Brian Skettini (195), Anthony Mayer-Aschhoff (177), Matt Myers (204), Jayden Fraiman (171), Parker Fraiman (180)

DICKINSON (unranked overall, unranked in Group IV)
1st in North 1B (2943)    GA: 182.4
Kyle O'Mara (174), Rut Patel (151), Bret Seelall (157), Ray Ramos (209), Matt Burzynski (220)

UNION (unranked overall, unranked in Group IV)
2nd in North 2 (2749)    GA: 177.0
Samantha Valle (164), Lacey Beall (164), Nick Melchionna (176), Kiara Powell (190), Sabir Alim (189)

NORTHERN HIGHLANDS (unranked overall, unranked in Group IV)
1st in North 1A (2925)    GA: 176.1
Emily Mamunes (186), Maks Halpin (170), Will Cunningham (172), Jacob Lucibello (182), Shane Bendit (158)

Realistically, there's a significant separation between the top four and the rest.  So, who's the favorite, the team that won the toughest sectional in the history of ever, or the team that put up a ridiculous 3400?  I think it's East Brunswick for one simple reason: location.  The finals are at the same place they just wrecked on Saturday.  Shawnee, Cherry Hill East and South Brunswick unquestionably have the talent to win this, though.  If there's a darkhorse, it's Livingston.

Monday, February 13, 2017

State Finals Preview - Girls Individual TOC

Please go read the disclaimer on the boys' preview if you haven't already.  This is all educated guesswork.

Here are the ten most likely contenders for the title at the Girls Individual TOC on Wednesday, in alphabetical order:

Jaime Golden, Sr., Sparta
Averaging 198, 11th at Sectionals (604), 657 at boys sectional, 630 at HWS, 11th at 2015 TOC

Jenn Ingulli, Sr., Ocean Township
Averaging 209, 3rd at Sectionals (609), 613 at team states, 615 at LB Wave, 9th at SJ Singles

Lanasia Neal, Jr., South Plainfield
Averaging 206, 6th at Sectionals (598), won GMC (744-617), 675 at James, won 2016 TOC

Madison Perry, Sr., Hawthorne
Averaging 192, 5th at Sectionals (638), 660 at boys sectionals, 636 at Bergen, 13th at 2016 TOC

Kamerin Peters, Fr., Toms River South
Averaging 215, 2nd at Sectionals (697), 722 at team states, 2nd at SJ Singles (1360, 6 gm)

Lauren Potechin, Sr., Millburn
Averaging 209, 7th at Sectionals (626), 576 at boys sectionals

Katie Robb, Jr., Kingsway
Averaging 201, 7th at Sectionals (632), 8th at 2016 TOC

Aimee Sherman, Sr., Jackson Memorial
Averaging 215, 3rd at Sectionals (688), 828 at So. Jersey Singles (4 gm), 834 at Snowball (4 gm)

Alize Stevenson, Sr., St. Mary's
Averaging 207, 1st at Sectionals (674), 646 at County, 2nd at 2014 TOC, 3rd at 2015 TOC

Jillian Stuart, Sr., Brick Memorial
Averaging 206, 9th at Sectionals (602), 619 at team states, 634 at CJWC, 12th at 2016 TOC

And, the tie for eleventh:

Emily Alvarez, Sr., South Brunswick
Michelle Bello, Sr., Pennsauken
Sarah Florence, Sr., Cedar Creek
Julianna Forbes, Jr., Brick Township
Kelcie Mannon, Fr., Warren Hills
Laura Oliver, Sr., Central
Sarah Orensky, Fr., Freehold Township
Gabby Pangaro, Sr., Clifton
Samantha Salzone, Sr., Edison
Goldera Surles, Jr., Union Catholic

State Finals Preview - Boys Individual TOC

Let's be clear about a couple of things: first, the 69 qualifiers for the state TOC individual championships are not the best 69 bowlers in the state.  We all know that.  But, every single one of them, I feel safe in saying, is a good bowler.  Considering some of the cutlines at sectionals, they'd have to be.  There are very few of those in the event that would surprise me by making the cut.  Let's also be clear that predicting what a bunch of teenagers are going to do in one bowling tournament on one day might be one of the stupidest endeavors ever taken on by man.  Still, we are in the previewing business, so we've got to try to say something.

Here's my list of the ten most likely contenders for the Boys TOC title.  This is based on season average, performance in sectionals, and tournament track record over the course of the season.  It ain't scientific, but I think it's objective, and I hope nobody takes it too seriously and gets offended; it's just my moderately educated opinion.  If none of the stepladder participants are on this list, I will be less shocked than you, I promise.

Anyway, in alphabetical order, the top ten contenders:

Andrew Abbonizio, Sr., Shawnee
Averaging 223, 1st at sectionals (757), 4-game 863 at Snowball

Matt Burzynski, Jr., Dickinson
Averaging 220, 1st at sectionals (772)

Austin Devereux, Sr., Manasquan
Averaging 227, 1st (300/772) at sectionals, 736 at Indians, 715 at LB Wave, 4th at SJ singles

Erik Katterman, Sr., Montville
Averaging 229,  1st (277/713) at sectionals. 300/813 at the Morris County tournament

Cameron LaPlant, So., JP Stevens
Averaging 217, 2nd at sectionals (765), won GMC singles (652-682 qualifying)

Matt Redbord, Jr., Ocean Township
Averaging 217, 9th at sectionals (682), 694 at CJWC, 4th at Monmouth (633)

Kyle Schellberg, Sr., Dumont
Averaging 214, 3rd at sectionals (694), 709 at Irwin, 749 at No. Jersey singles, 661-557 at Bergen

Matthew Stephens, Sr., Egg Harbor
averaging 224, 3rd at sectionals (732), won So. Jersey singles (1691 over 7 games)

James Stoveken, So., Woodbridge
Averaging 226, 5th at sectionals (729), 2nd at James (738) 2nd at GMC individual (694-678)

Evan Weinberg, Jr., Dayton
Averaging 224, 4th at sectionals (668), 6th in 2016 TOC

Late information that Austin Devereux will not be competing.  His spot in the TOC will be taken by the next highest finished in Central.  The new entrant, Joe Ocello of St. Rose, has the talent to belong on this list himself.

And let's call this a 15-way tie for 11th, just because I don't know when to quit:

Sam Bortnick, Jr., East Brunswick
Kenny Burdge, Fr., Manchester
Colin Dromgoole, Sr., Caldwell
Mark Friedman, Cedar Creek
Ray Ramos, Jr., Dickinson
Jared Duncan, Sr., Indian Hills
Louis Folgore, So., Monroe
David Grant, Sr., Fort Lee
Eric Lawson, Jr., Warren Hills
Derek Lewandowski, Jr., Ridgefield Park
Anthony Mathis, Fr., Cherry Hill East
Justin Pavlik, Ridge
Joey Steele, Jr., Sussex Tech
Chris Swindell, Sr., Toms River South
Tim Zayac, Sr., Sussex Tech

Sectional Wrapup - Boys South

nj.com full results are here.  Story is here.  South lived up to the hype, I think.

This was one of the very few groupings that went 100% exactly according to the numbers. I think there were two others. Anyway, Cinnaminson got out to a lead, Maple Shade caught up to within one pin after two games, then Cinnaminson, led by Sean Harris's amazingly consistent 224-227-225=676 (good enough to advance as an individual) put it away in game three.  Maple Shade's strong 2735 set was powered by Dan Kenny (635) and Evan Deibert (659). Gloucester City made things interesting with a big 871 in the first game behind Matt Baus, who would go on to shoot 689 and qualify for the TOC.

We had some drama in this one, though, didn't we?  Deptford, who I stupidly ignored completely in the preview, came out charging with a big 989 to lead the field after game 1. Brent Ayres (214) and Matt Kaminski (233) led the Spartans, who would fade a bit, but never drop off completely.  Kaminski would finish at 666, and his team only 69 points out of a TOC spot.  Deptford was about 340 pins over average, finishing at a season-high (easily) 2733.  That's just great bowling.  Meanwhile, #15 Seneca had shot 973 in Game One thanks to Jacob Boris (234) and Eddie Cashwell (225), and held a 46-pin lead on the field by the end of the second game, with Lacey and Manchester right behind Deptford, fighting for that second TOC spot.  Seneca would put the title on ice in game three, shooting 1006 as Zach Malcolm (208) joined Cashwell (215) and Boris (225).  In the battle for the other Bowlero slot, Lacey would depend on all day on Nick Striffler, whose 238-269-201=708 would place him 9th overall, while Manchester was similarly led by freshman Kenny Burdge, who posted 253-229-245=727 to wind up 5th.  Game three was a squeaker, with these two Shore South B rivals fighting for the last spot, though Burlington made a great run, shooting 1003 behind Alexander Gagnon (226), Raymond Harney (221) and Andrew Brown (202).  Lots of bowlers performed great, as Brian Huebler's 257 for Lacey and Justin Villano's 223 for Manchester helped out Striffler and Burdge, but at the end, Lacey took the spot by a razor-thin 5-pin margin.  Boys or girls, these two schools have a magnificent rivalry.

I expected this to be a two-team battle between #3 Toms River South and #7 Brick Township, with #20 Central as a distant third choice.  If you just look at the final scores, you think that's exactly what happened.  That's NOT what happened.  TRS got off to a hot start, blasting a 1088 in game one behind Kyle Oliveri (210), Jim Breslin (200), Mike Laycock (235) and Chris Swindell (258).  Not unexpected.  Second place after one? Gloucester Tech. I know, right?  But there they were, putting up 1006, with Joseph Gallo (222), Zach Hansen (215) and Nicholas Sulina (226, on his way to a TOC-qualifying 669 set).  TRS was solid in game two, with Andrew Xiques'' 204 contributing to a 980 game, which gave the Indians a 93-pin lead over... yup, still Gloucester Tech.  John Atkinson (228) joined Sulina's 236 and gave the Cheetahs a 969 game to maintain 2nd.  But others were coming: St. Augustine shot 1005 behind Nick DiNunzio's 258 and Kyle Griffiths' 212.  Jackson Liberty posted 1025, with Brian Dalmar shooting 243 and Josh Botteri 264 (he would finish at 732, T-3rd overall).  Hammonton, led by Joey DiCamillo's 246-212 and Central, led by Brian Gural's 223-201 had combined for 4 team games between 945 and 956.  And Brick Township was in the mix, too: Nick Kafarski and Kyle Chirichello had a pair of 200 games each and Jordan Malizia shot 224 in game 2.  With TRS off in the distance, there were no less than SIX teams between 1901 and 1975 vying for second place.  It was madness.  Game three saw TRS put the title on ice with a strong 1050, giving them a 3118 total.  Chris Swindell's 244 finished off a 716 set that punched his ticket to North Brunswick on Wednesday.  Gloucester Tech had another strong game, 940, and Central's Michael Eak shot a big 259 to help his team to an impressive 2935.  But none of it mattered, because Brick Township shot the lights out: Chirichello 225, Malizia 226, and Kafarski, Nick Gross and Chris Shymanski each shot 234.  The game total was a sublime 1153, and not only did the Dragons secure second place and a TOC slot, they came within 22 pins of taking the title away from TRS.  The lesson: Never, ever, just read the final scores.

I'm sticking with "bloodbath".  Someone with a more detailed knowledge of NJ HS bowling history please enlighten me: was this the most loaded sectional in the history of the sport?  How many teams in South, Group IV shot 2900?  EIGHT.  How many Group IV teams did that in the other four G-4 sectionals combined? four.  How many teams in the other four Group IV sectionals shot 3000?  One.  How many did it in South, Group IV?  FIVE.  I don't even know how to write about this without getting bogged down in numbers even more than I normally do.  There were 26 600s, including 5 700s in this 13-team grouping.   Three different teams had four bowlers shoot over 600 - and two of them didn't even make the TOC.  No matter what, a top ten team was going to be eliminated,  but a bunch of teams that had fantastic days are headed home as well.

#5 Shawnee led wire to wire after a monster start: Andrew Abbonizio (279), Nick Simonetti (248) and Chris Pagliuso (258) all went big and the team total was 1145.  It stayed reasonably close: the Renegardes had a 55 pin lead after 2 and won the title by just 26, but their ticket to the TOC was never in serious jeopardy.  Abbonizio finished with 210-268 for a 757 set to take the individual championship, too. #10 Cherry Hill East (220's by Adam Crognale and Kevin Babitz, 206 from Kyle Winter) and an utterly surprising Lenape squad (215 from Ryan Delozier, 213 by Jayen Patel, 238 by Devan Patel) each cracked 1000, and Jackson Memorial was just under.  The #1 team in New Jersey, Brick Memorial, had a rough start and found themselves 113 pins out of a TOC spot, and mired in eighth place.

The Mustangs are too good to let that be the end, and they got right back into the mix with a five-bowler-strong 1149: Cameron Waldheim (208), Alec Hehir (234), John Boughton (227), Michael Guzman (243) and Andrew Lazarchick (237) all hit.  But CHE was better than Game one as well, with Anthony Mathis's 244 helping his team shoot 1050, and Jackson Memorial was even better: Steve Gold (237), Brandon Mumm (219), Brad Aumann (215) and Steve Nicholsen (257 on his way to a seventh overall 714) all shot big and the team scored 1098.  Egg Harbor Township and Eastern were each just under 1000, too.  No lead was safe, but it looked like the contenders might have separated a bit.  After two games it was: Shawnee 2151, Jackson Memorial 55 back, CHE 13 behind Jax, and Brick Memorial 27 behind Jax.  That's really tight.  And Egg Harbor had their two stars going nuts: Jason Pesce (214-259-222=695) and Matthew Stephens (279-227-226=732) would both comfortably qualify for individual advacement; you couldn't rule them out either at 114 back.

So, three teams had shot 1000 in game 1, four did it in game 2.  With everything on the line, how many would top a grand in Game 3?  Six.  Shawnee's 1024 clinched their championship at 3175. Toms River North put up a cool 1027 behind James Bolish's 214 and Josh Burns' 265, but their run came a bit too late and they took eighth (eighth!) with 2906. Burns shot 700 and qualified as an individual.  Matthew Young (233) and Jeff Leonard (235) helped Eastern post 1010 in the final game and shoot a near-season-high 2918, which landed seventh. Even with two supermen, Egg Harbor slipped a bit in game 3 and took 6th (2929).  Jackson Memorial also came back to earth a bit, but finished with a season-high 3013 set and 5th place in The Toughest Sectional Ever.  Lenape finished incredibly strong: Delozier (245), Brendan Kelly (234) and the Patels (222 each, which probably took some planning) led their squad to a season-high and thoroughly amazing 3047 set and a hard-fought 4th place.  Devan Patel earned advancement to Bowlero as well with his 695.

Brick Memorial was good in game 3, with Hehir (214), Boughton (216) and Lazarchick (205) over 200, but the team's 1009 was not quite up to their standards, and it would prove to be short of what they needed to complete the comeback, because Cherry Hill East put up a huge gut-check 1066 game, led by Babitz (201), Emerson Levy (238) and the freshman, Mathis, who finished a brilliant 711 series with a final-game 267.  He's headed to the individual TOC, too.

"It's a shame somebody had to lose" is awfully cliche, but I don't know what else to write here.  It's a damn shame that inequality of competition geographically means that teams with legitimate state title talent are eliminated at this stage, and it's absurd that the cutline to advance to the state individual TOC is 668 (though, of course, we've seen much higher in past years), but I'm not sure there's a reasonable solution any time in the near future.

Congrats to all the teams that bowled well, and shout out to the Olympic conference, who certainly removed any lingering doubt that they can hang with, and beat, the big boys.

I just wrote like 50,000 words, is there anyone I missed?

The answer is yes.  Nick DiNunzio of St. Augustine (670), Joshua Lipko of Cherry Hill West (673) and Westampton Tech's Jordan Shackleford (668) were all mentioned in the preview as individual contenders, and all came through with sets high enough to earn advancement.

I have to be honest, I don't know Mark Friedman of Cedar Creek, though it's entirely possible that I've seen him bowl at some point.  Anyway, entered as an independent, Friedman was excellent, shooting 226-254-258=738 to claim second place in the sectional behind Abbonizio.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sectional Wrapup - Boys Central

nj.com story here. Full results here.  This was an amazingly competitive and exciting event, everything you hope and expect high-level high school bowling to be.

Well, this was crazy.  Four good teams came in with a reasonable shot, and all four teams engaged in a back-and-forth battle where anything could have resulted.   Matawan took an early lead with a 986 in game one behind good games by Chris McShane (217), Travis Sweeney (211) and Ryan Nesbitt (210), while Bishop Ahr was right behind at 963 thanks to Andrew Funk's 247.  The favorites bounced back in game two, with #8 Manasquan posting 983, powered by Austin Devereux's 257 and Chris Heilos's 224.  #17 St. Rose was one stick better than their Shore rivals, as Joe Ocelo (214) and Carter Vanderslice (219) pushed their team to 984.  But Bishop Ahr was even 3 pins better than the Roses, firing a balanced 987, led again by Funk (226). Ahr took a 68 pin lead into the final game, but it was anybody's to take as the four teams were within 98 pins and all were capable of going big. Nobody backed down in the finale: Ocelo (214) and Jarrett Toth (215) helped St. Rose to a solid 947, but the teams' 2829 would come up just short.  Bishop Ahr got 206s from Erik Gonzalez and Kyle Heyman, as well as 231 from Funk (completing a 704,  8th best in this loaded sectional) and reached a total of 2889.  Matawan made a dynamite run at the leaders, firing 1027 behind Ryan Nesbitt (210), Sweeney (208) and a big 245 from Matt Nesbitt, but came up 10 pins short of Bishop Ahr. Still, that would have been good enough for a slot at the TOC, except that Manasquan got a nice 224 from Kyle Bauter and a devastating perfect 300 from Austin Devereux, which landed the Warriors a 1059 game, a 2913 set, and the Sectional championship (as well as landing Devereux a 772 set and the individual title).  Fantastic bowling all around and very touch placement: Central had the top FOUR scores in Group I for the entire state, but only two can advance.

This one, too, folks.  Three teams got off to fast starts: #16 St. Joseph's (Metuchen) put up 996 behind John Reggio (234) and Joe Chrobak (216).  #6 Ocean Township was only 2 sticks behind after a balanced 994 led by Matt Redbord's 222.  And an underdog got involved, with Ewing tossing 989, powered by Chase Springett (227) and Reese Hunt (219).  All three took a step back in game two, and South Plainfield roared past everyone with a 989 game on the strength of Ryan Berardi's 213 and Angelo Salici's big 277.  That left St. Joe's on the outside after two, but the Falcons were having exactly none of that.  They put up a monster 1129 in game three, with all five bowlers shooting 200 (Justin Biancamano 204, John Hogan 214, Giovanni Santiago 221, Chrobak 224 and Reggio 266 to complete a 679 set, putting him in the individual TOC).  St. Joe's was safely in first at 3025, but second place was wide open until Ocean Township put it away with a 971 game, thanks to newly subbed-in Jack Henry (204), Brian Davis (212), and TOC qualifier Redbord (226, for 682).  I guess in the end, the two favorites advanced, but nobody made it easy.  Great bowling.

This one, too?  Absolutely.  #2 Woodbridge had vastly superior season-long numbers than Monroe and Sayreville, but all three GMC squads showed up ready to bowl: all three topped 1000 in game one.  Monroe's 1020 was the product of huge games by Louis Folgore (268) and Ryley McKiernan (266); each would shoot 668 and qualify for Wednesday's individual event.  Woodbridge came in at 1034 thanks to a great game by James Stoveken (278) and another big number from John Drost (236).  But Sayreville, the defending state champ, had the early lead behind a huge 1061: Ryan Johnson (239), Eddie Peterson (218), Chris DeOcampo (237) and Dylan Gilligan (201) all broke 200 for the Bombers.  Woodbridge and Monroe would separate themselves in Game 2, each breaking 1000 again, and while Sayreville bowled well, they would be unable to make up the ground.  Monroe's Tyler Kresan put up a huge game 2 with 267 and Zac Waynor's 225 was big as well. Stoveken (227) and Drost (230) again paced the Barrons.  Monroe took an eleven pin lead over the state's #2 team into the final game, and Folore & McKiernan's continued excellence, with help from Zack Vollemann (203) was enough to take the title, though Stoveken fired 224 to complete a 729 set, good for 5th in the sectional.  Great job by Monroe, and Woodbridge may have gotten a huge wake-up call before States on Friday.  Also of note in Group III, Freehold Township, whom I listed without comment in the preview, put up 2758, by far their best score of the season, to finish a surprising fourth.  Very nice job.

I'm not going to pretend that this one was as thrilling as the craziness in the other three groups, because #4 East Brunswick simply decimated the field and looked very much like the best team in the state, at least for one day.  The Bears put up THREE games over 1100 and an astounding total of 3400, which was only the top sectional score in the state by 225 pins.  Three East Brunswick bowlers finished in the top eight of this loaded sectional: Jack Deruvo (255-256-242=753) came in fourth, with James Reitano (710) and Sam Bortnick (682) also moving on to the individual TOC.  Daniel Lenk (628) and Ethan Shamin (627) were very good as well.  Just an outstanding performance.

The battle for 2nd was a good one, though.  Howell took the early lead with a 972 in game one, led by Joseph Inserra (212) and Brian Garofano (215).  #11 South Brunswick came back big in Game 2, shooting 987 behind Anthony Fama (235), Chan Woo Ang (202), and held a 72 pin lead over Howell, with Old Bridge only six pins further back.  South Brunswick finished with a solid 984 for a total of 2903.  Howell made a nice charge, shooting 1004 with big games from Inserra (209) and Garofano (235), but came up 52 pins short.  Old Bridge was another story.  Gerard Chidichimo's 201, Peter Mattson's 200 and the big one, Doug Titmas's 284 (which also landed him in the TOC with a 677 set) pushed the Knights to an excellent 1053, but their 2894 was a scant nine pins short of a qualifying spot.

15 qualifiers with the cutline at a very high 668.  We covered individual champ Devereux, as well as Deruvo, Stoveken, Reintano, Funk, Redbord, Bortnick, Reggio, Titmas, Folgore and McKiernan.  Cameron LaPlant of JP Stevens was brilliant, shooting 227-259-279=765 to finish second.  Ethan Goldring of Watchung Hills fired 715, his third 700 on the season, to take 6th.  That leaves two bowlers that entered as individuals.  Ryan Carlisi of Steinert put up a nice 679 to qualify for Bowlero.  And Justin Pavlik of Ridge scored a fantatic 228-300-233=761 to take third.  A really wonderful collection of bowlers here.

Sectional Wrapup - Boys North 1A

nj.com story is here.  Full results are here.  I don't have bowler-level detail for all teams, so sorry if some of this is cursory.  I will say, that of the eight sectionals, this is the one where my preview commentary was the furthest off.  It didn't help that due to an editing error, my preview paragraphs on Bergenfield and Ridgefield Park were accidentally combined and rendered nonsensical.

Our first group is our first big upset.  Hasbrouck Heights winning the three-team battle was only a mild surprise, but Becton stealing spot #2 from North Arlington is certainly noteworthy. Justin Rinaldi picked a great time for his season-high series, 644 (he averages 180), which earned him Group I's only spot in the individual TOC, and earned his team a tight 15-pin victory over the favorites.

The two favorites are moving on, but Fort Lee bowled fantastic and flipped the order to take the sectional with an impressive 2945.  We knew how great David Grant was, so his qualifying 646 was no shock, but Luke Athanassapoulos shooting 658 on his 182 average?  Very nice. Dumont leapfrogged a couple to finish solidly in third behind Kyle Schellberg's 694 (third overall).

In this sectional's marquee event, the favorites are moving on, but oh boy was it close.  #14 Indian Hills was brilliant, posting a sectional-best 3103 behind Jared Duncan's 702 and Ryan McGuire's 664, as well as solid numbers from Jon Mormando, Jack Miller and Andrew Smolenski.  This group has a real chance to compete for a state title on Friday.  #18 Pascack Valley didn't have their best day, but managed to secure a TOC spot with a solid 2857 because Henry Tipping was great, shooting 268/675. Ridgefield Park and Demarest each made a strong run at the upset, coming up just 66 & 67 pins short, respectively. RP's Derek Lewandowski secured an individual spot with a 642 set.

Of the 32 sectionals in 2017, I think this one carried the biggest upset of them all.  I dismissed Northern Highlands with one line, calling their numbers "just a little shy", and the Highlanders simply went out and blew the Group IV field away, shooting 2925 and besting second-place Ridgewood by 151 pins.  How the heck did they do that?  Well, Emily Mamunes was a bit over average with a 567.  Miles Halpin was a little over his average, 547.  Jacob Lucibello did well, shooting 593 on his 182 average.  Shane Bendit was right at his average.  And Junior Will Cunningham bested his average by TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY PINS.  237-300-209=746 on a 172 average.  That's.... that's amazing.  Matt Myers' 680 helped Ridgewood win an extremely close 3-way battle for second over Fair Lawn (by just 28 pins) and Bergen Catholic (by 46).


Only twelve spots available in North 1A, with the cutline coming at 642.  Only a handful of surprises in the individual qualifiers, and we covered just about all of them: Cunningham, Duncan, Schellberg, Myers and Tipping were the top five.  We mentioned McGuire, Athanassopoulos, Grant, Rinaldi and Lewandowski.  That leaves Nick Greco of Fair Lawn, who shot 648 and is obviously an established great bowler.  And Junior Eric Weiss of Bergenfield, who destroyed his 166 average and his 603 season-high series by carding a fantastic 646.

Two hundred and thirty pins over average.  Damn.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

State Finals Wrapup - Girls Team TOC


The question of 'Who's #1?" in New Jersey high school girls' bowling has been pretty debatable ever since Warren Hills outscored Brick Memorial, who has put up better numbers all season, at a pair of tournaments in January. The season-ending Tournament of Champions, though, was pretty definitive, as Warren Hills dominated both the Group III final and two rounds of Baker playoffs to claim the TOC championship, the first for both the school and all of North Jersey.

nj.com story and results


Central Jersey runnerup Matawan got off to a great start, leading after game one with 817 on the strength of Katie DeVoe's 221.  Ramsey got into the mix by shaking off a rough first game with the top Group I game of the day, 917, behind huge games by Lindsay Pepper (222) and Angela DiNallo (246).  Game 3 was Carteret's turn to shine, as Allison Russell's 235 paced her team to a strong 889; Carteret's 2412 put them just 3 pins ahead of Ramsey.  But that battle was for second place, as Westwood put up the best total with a consistent 802-853-802 to take the title by 45 pins.  The Cardinals won their second state championship in three years behind Kristen Benavente's 592 and Gabby Stellaci's 553.


Ocean Township, the Group II favorite, got off to a great start with a solid team-effort 936 game, led by Dana Henry (204), Alexa Tieto (213) and Jenn Ingulli (196), while Manchester was close behind with a 912 game powered by Theresa Bedaro's 234.  The possibility of a two-team Shore Conference breakaway was foiled in game two by Holy Angels, whose 942 (led by Amelia Brunda's 211 and Ciara Mottley's 209) was over 100 pins clear of the field and gave them a 29-pin lead headed to the final game.  A tight finish wasn't to be, as the Angels bested the field by another big margin; Tiffany Sucero (201) and Shiho Numakura (203) fueled a 922 game that gave AHA a 100-pin win over second-place Ocean Township, securing the school's first ever bowling State Championship, and ending Manchester's impressive domination of Group II (they had been champs eight straight years).


Warren Hills threw five strikes in the first frame of the first game and never really let up.  They had the highest game in Group III in all three games, scored 3 of the top seven series in the entire event (Jessica Yerance 609, Jenna Henderson 614, and Katie Winch 652 for second overall) and took the title by over 300 pins.  Edison threw an excellent 938 in game two, led by Touri Holmes's 246, but Brick Township battled back to erase a huge deficit with a strong-across-the-board 929 in game three, which gave them second place by just four pins over the Eagles. Warren Hills' first state title ended Brick Township's generational run of nine straight Group III titles.


Brick Memorial lost the sectional final to Toms River North last week, and they were down one of their stars as Sarah Pitcher was out with an injury.  And then , despite a solid 942 led by Amanda Shelters' 235, they found themselves down to TRN again after Cassidy Syrdale's 201 joined Kamerin Peters' tournament-best 269 game for a 952 team total.  But the Mustangs didn't get down and didn't let up: they completed a 942-947-935=2824 to win their second-straight Group IV state title, finishing with a substantial 135 cushion over TRN (despite Peters' fantastic 722).


Official awards for high series aren't given out, so I'll list the top 10 here (with thanks to Bryan Vargas for compiling the data).

1. Kamerin Peters, Toms River North   722
2. Katie Winch, Warren Hills   652
3. Jill Stuart, Brick Memorial   619
4. Angela DiNallo, Ramsey   616
5. Jenna Henderson, Warren Hills   609
6. Jenn Ingulli, Ocean Township   613
7. Jess Yerance, Warren Hills    609
8. Julianna Forbes, Brick Township   604
9. Touri Holmes, Edison   600
10. Dana Henry, Ocean Township   600


Baker matches don't leave a lot to analyze statistically.  Westwood kept 2 of their 3 games against Warren Hills close, but couldn't quite get close enough to mount a real challenge.  After trading the first two games, the last two Holy Angels/Brick Memorial matches were both tight throughout, and seemed to come down to carry as much as anything else; that's not exactly uncommon in a short Baker series when both teams are going well. Anyway, AHA carried a little better and moved on.

To be honest, the Baker finals wasn't the prettiest bowling we would ever see.  Nerves and fatigue probably contributed to more splits and misses than these two teams had been producing the rest of the tournament.  At the end of the day, I think the biggest reason Warren Hills took the title was that, with all due respect to a bunch of great bowlers in the finals, Jenna Henderson was simply the best bowler out there during the Baker rounds.  Unofficially, she put something very close to 23 of 24 shots in the pocket over seven Baker games, and came through every time the Blue Streaks needed her.

So, that's the season.  I'll have more to say in some season-ending posts, including final rankings and all-state teams.  Congratulations to Westwood, Holy Angels, Brick Memorial, and 2017's #1 team, Warren Hills.