After a rare bad game, Nate Maloney of Niagara-Wheatfield knew it was time to get going.
Maloney, the defending indiviual champion in the Section VI boys bowling championships, had finished the morning block of three games with a 151. That put him almost 100 pins out of first place at the break.
“I was thinking, now it’s time to step it back up and finish it off in the second half,” he said.
Maloney did exactly that. He rolled games of 198, 224 and 249 for a total of 671 in the afternoon and an overall total of 1,250. That was good enough to capture his second straight title, although it was a little behind his 1,284 total of last year. The competition was held at Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga.
“I just made sure I made all my spares,” he said. “That’s the biggest part of the game right there.”
Maloney had one good-sized advantage in defending his title. He had been through the pressure of bowling at a high level in the sectional final a year ago, and come out on top.
“I wanted to bring it back and make it two in a row,” he said.
Josh Large of Tonawanda finished the day with a 179 for a six-game total of 1,236, good for second place. A trip to the state championships was a very good consolation prize for not being able to hold off a charging Maloney.
“My coaches just wanted me to bowl my best, and then find out where I came in,” he said. Qualifying for states “feels amazing.”
Just behind those two was Joe Scapillato of Depew, who was third with a 1,231.
“I’m pretty happy,” he said. “I got advice from a lot of people. I had mixed feelings about where to play. My best bet was to go right and go down the boards – less miss area. Other than that, I put together strings when I had to. Overall, I threw the ball well.”
Three other spots were available for the state team, and they were taken out of a pool of 32 bowlers who had very good regular seasons. The idea is to reward those who were potential state qualifiers based on a season’s worth of results. The top three pool participants who didn’t finish in the top three overall were Thomas Kowal of South Park (ninth), Tom Klenke of Orchard Park (10th), and Andrew Burckhalter of West Seneca West (15th).
In the team competition, Frontier was the overall champion with 5,569 pins. That sent the Falcons’ team to the state championships.
“It’s our third one in four years, actually,” coach John Cordieu said. “We have a young team, but they’ve been around other kids who have won championships. So they’ve learned how it was done. We had a pretty good year, but we worked hard for it.”
Orchard Park finished second to Frontier in the overall competition and in Class A. In Class B, Lewiston-Porter put on a big rally in the final game to pass Iroquois. In Class C, Tonawanda caught Fredonia in the afternoon games to capture the crown. In Class D, Frewsburg earned a 16-pin win over Salamanca.
Those who will represent Section VI in the state championships will have the home-lanes advantage when they take on the best high school bowlers from around New York. The finals will be held in Airport Lanes on March 5-6.
“It’s nice to have it 10 minutes down the road instead of two hours or more away,” Scapillato said.
“We bowl a lot of people in our division at this house, so I’m used to the house. But at the same time, I’ve never been a fan of the house. But you get used to the atmosphere, and knowing what you have to do and then doing it. It felt like home today.”