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Bowling: Szczublewski is Tri-City champ

 The Tri-City Masters is a baby compared to the Buffalo's George A. Obenauer Masters, but in its 27 years the "Tri" has built its own tradition as a major event on the Western New York bowling scene.
 This year the Tri-City had a new master in George Szczublewski, who defeated Mike Hanes, 433-395, in the two-game total-pins final match to win it for the first time. It was the first time he qualified for match play in the tournament.
Szczublewski, who grew up in Hamburg and graduated from Frontier High but lives in West Seneca now, did not enter the Tri-City last year but two before he just missed the cut after qualifying.
 "Mike is somebody I knew back in the day," Szczublewski said. "It was fun to bowl with him. It  brought back a lot of good memories.
"The match was a lot closer than the score would show," Szczublewski said of the final. "Beat me 199-198 in the first game and it was pretty much even through the first five frames of the second game. We both were having a hard time with the right lane. I happened to solve it first. I threw four strikes in a row and shot 235 in the second game and he had an open."
 It's been a good season for Szczublewski, who did not bowl for about 20 years until he picked it up again in 2011. Work, school (ECC, then Buffalo State), work and raising a family kept him off the lanes.
 "I just didn't have time for it. Before you know it, it's 20 years," Szczublewski said. "Actually my golf league got me back into it. They needed a sub once in a while. I didn't have any equipment or anything.
"Since I turned 50, there are more senior tournaments available. It means practicing more so I can be more competitive in senior tournament."
 Last year Szczublewski joined John Masiello, Mike Faliero and Jack Jurek in the USBC Senior Masters in Las Vegas and plans on going back again and then play the Senior Open that follows in Las Vegas.
 Szczublewski entered the Obenauer Masters for the first time and plans to bowl in it this year as well. Also he's  been active in PBA Regional events.
On his way to the final of the Tri-City, Szczublewski triumphed over Kevin Volker, 406-389, No. 5 seed Ernie Hoover, 432-418, Tom Sorce, 458-425, and David Zajac, 459-429. Hanes survived a close match with Jon Novak, 473-472, before the former pro ran into Szczublewski in the final.
William Rodgers of the Tonawandas led the qualifying with a 1,392 that included a 300 game to earn the No. 1 seed. The eight leading qualifiers earned a bye into the second round of match play, but it seemed to be more a curse than a blessing. Only Hanes in the No. 6 slot and Jeremy Zimmerman at No. 8 survived their first matches after sitting out the first round.
The Tri-City came into existence when the Tonawandas, Niagara Falls and Lockport associations got together to stage one overall Masters event. As the overall winner Szczublewski was the Tonawandas winner for which he received $300 in addition to the $500 for winning the overall title.
Gary Kinyon defeated Zimmerman, 221-203, in the rolloff for the Lockports Masters title. Zajac defeated Jon Nowak, 240-228, to win the Niagara Falls title. The winners also received $300 from their respective associations.
Szczublewski bowls regularly in four local leagues and subs in two others. He teams with Pat Brick and Angela Brick in the Alzena Wright Classic Doubles League at Classic Lanes on Monday nights, the Carl Reczek Memorial at the Edge, the BPA Travel B, the Broad Spectrum 3-man League at Spare Time.
Szczublewski's accomplishments this season include a victory over Fred Gravanda on the WBBZ-TV's Beat the Champ Show at Gravanda's home ground, Mancuso's Lanes in Batavia, and then two more victories at the Jamestown Bowling Company after that before losing to Tony Dolan.
A field of 50 bowlers entered the Tri-City. Next year's tournament is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 10-11 and will be hosted by the Lockport Association, tentatively at Allie Brandt Lanes.
Lavoie top rookie
The PBA's Harry Golden Rookie of the Year award went to 23-year-old Francois Lavoie of Quebec, one of the miniwave of PBA stars coming from Canada.  Lavoie, who bowled at Wichita State where John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda was a star, made four television finals in his first year on the Tour and won a major, the U.S. Open.
Runner-up for the Golden was another Canadian, Graham Fach, who became the first from his country to win a PBA Tour title when he won the Barbasol PBA Players Championship. He also won the PBA Shark Championship in the World Series of Bowling. Fash defeated Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga in the 2016 PBA Players Championship final.
"It's been a great year for Canadian bowling," Lavoie told the PBA website.
 Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich. won the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award, which is selected by the PBA Tour players. Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., won the Tony Reyes Community Service Award.
The PBA Award winners, along with T.J. Tackett as the Chris Schenkel Player of the Year awardee, were honored on Monday at the PBA Hall of Fame Dinner Awards ceremonies at the Grand Casino in Shawnee, Okla.Pin chasers

-- Brad Angelo was Western New York's last hope in the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions at Shawnee, Okla. The Lockport pro stood in 16th play as the field was cut to the top 24 for Friday's night eight-game block. The top 16 Friday will bowl another eight-game round on Saturday to determine the five bowlers for Sunday's stepladder final (ESPN, 1 p.m). Until the stepladder, there was no match play.
Angelo shot 1,625 with high games of 255, 249 and 247 and a low of 213 Friday to cement his position in the top 24. He was tied for 15th after Thursday's round.
-- Sunday is the final day of qualifying at Transit Lanes for the March Beat the Champ shows on WBBZ-TV. Qualifying squads will be at noon, 2 and 4. The taping of the March Beat the Champ shows will start at 10 a.m. on Feb. 26 at Transit.
-- Walk-in slot are available for Sunday, the final day of the Greater Buffalo USBC Me & Mine Tournament at Broadway Sports Center. Squads are noon, 2 and 4. The finals of the GBUSBC's 32nd Youth Singles Championship will be Sunday at The Edge.
-- The Region 1 qualifier for the 48th annual New York State Youth Team Championship will be today and Sunday at noon and 2:30 each day at the Tonawanda Bowling Center. The state finals will be May 6.
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