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PBA finals have N.Y. state of mind

New York, New York.

Make that New York, New York, New York, New York.

Four of the five finalists in today's stepladder finals (ESPN, 1 p.m.) of the Denny's PBA Tour Columbia 300 Classic at AMF Babylon Lanes are from the Empire State, including Joe Ciccone of Buffalo.

Ciccone qualified third, averaging 225.88 in match play and winning 12 of his 18 matches. He was 7-2 in the round of 16 round-robin Friday night to earn the third spot in the five-bowler stepladder.

Ryan Shafer of Horseheads is the No. 1 seed followed by Tommy Delutz Jr. of Flushing. No. 4 Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., is the only non-New Yorker in the finals.

Local favorite Michael Fagan of nearby Greenlawn made the most dramatic entrance into the finals by edging former Niagara Falls resident Pat Healey Jr. of Flower Mound, Texas, 248-238, in the round of 16 position round to pick up the fifth and final spot with a 7-10-1 round-robin match record and a 32-game pinfall of 7,588, including 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 for each tie.

Shafer has led throughout the tournament, finishing 126 pins ahead of No. 2 Delutz, with a 32-game pinfall of 7,716 and a match play record of 13-5. Also going 13-5, Delutz finished with 7,590, two pins ahead of Ciccone. Duke finished 8-9-1, with a 7,516 pinfall.

Today's winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny's PBA Tour exemption.

Ciccone, who is looking for his first Tour victory, will be appearing in his fourth television finals, the most recent last season when he lost to Jason Couch in the title match of the Chicago Classic. He has a 1-3 record in television singles matches on the Denny's PBA Tour.

Friday night, in match play, Ciccone lost only to Doug Kent of Newark, N.Y. and Delutz, Jr. One of his victories was over Healey, 225-199. He defeated Shafer, 244-212, in the final position round match but was edged out for the second seed because Delutz defeated Norm Duke, 256-246, to overcome Ciccone's 10-pin advantage.

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