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Angelo’s in good form in return to PBA Tour

It wasn’t a triumphant comeback, unfortunately, but Brad Angelo’s return to the PBA Tour in the past week after a long layoff certainly was encouraging.

The Lockport pro, who had not bowled in a regular tour event since November 2012, finished 27th in the 49th PBA Tournament of Champions – one place behind Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga – earlier this week at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich.

Only the top 24 advanced to match play. The five-bowler stepladder finals of the T of C will be bowled Sunday (noon, ESPN).

A year ago, Angelo hoped to bowl in the Tournament of Champions after missing several tournaments including the U.S. Open and the November World Series of Bowling V in Las Vegas. He was forced to drop out, however, because he had not recovered sufficiently enough from a wrist injury for that kind of rigorous competition.

Finishing 27th was no mean feat in the Champions field of 77 of the sport’s biggest names. Behind him in the final standings were bowlers such as Walter Ray Williams, Norm Duke, Tom Baker and Mike Devaney.

The top 24 bowlers after 25 games of qualifying earned berths in the match play rounds. Ciminelli (15th) and Angelo (21st) were in good position entering the final five-game block on Tuesday morning. Both struggled, however. Ciminelli shot 1,006, including a 167 game, and Angelo shot 1,044, including a 176.

Ciminelli shot 5,629 (225.16 average) for the tournament to earn $1,550 while Angelo finished with 5,621 (224.84) and picked up $1,500. Only the top 29 qualifiers cashed.

A 300 game in the third game of the final round after a 289 in the fourth round were not enough to lift Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga into qualifying position. She averaged 221.12 for the tournament with a 5,528 total and finished in a tie for 39th with Duke.

Joe Ciccone of Buffalo was 52nd (5,457-218.28) and Jack Jurek of Lackawanna was 68th (5,305-212.20). Jurek got off to the best start of the Western New York bowlers, shooting 1,187 with a high game of 256 in the first round of qualifying, but he didn’t crack 1,100 in the subsequent four rounds.

The stepladder finals for the Tournament of Champions will be shown live – a rarity these days.

It will include the four most current major tournament champions – defending champion Pete Weber, U.S. Open winner Wes Malott, PBA World Champion Dom Barrett, and 2012-13 Player of the Year and USBC Masters title holder Jason Belmonte. The fifth bowler is Dan MacLelland of Canada. Weber (5) and MacLelland (4) will be the opening match, with the winner facing No. 3 seed Malott.

Belmonte, the Australian with the two-handed delivery, was a model of consistency in qualifying at the top of the stepladder. He led four of the five qualifying rounds, averaging 246, and all three match play rounds. He was 18-6 in match play with a 12,451 pinfall, including bonus pins for 49 games. He was 363 pins better than Barrett.

Belmonte was second last year and third the year before in the Tournament of Champions.

Also this weekend, matches of the PBA League will be bowled and taped for later showing on ESPN. Ciminelli (Philadelphia Hitmen) and John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda (New York City WTT Kingpins) will be in action in the three days of league matches that start today in Michigan.

ECC women triumph

Alicia Alguire, Liz Szpara and Gabby Damin of the Erie Community College women’s team bowled three of the top four individual scores to help the Kats to the championship of last weekend’s Hawk Invitational Tournament at AMF Pin-o-Rama Lanes in Utica.

Alguire was first with 1,624, Szpara third with 1,514 and Damin fourth with 1,444 for ECC, which finished first among six teams with 8,354 pins. Lizzy Golubski was ninth (1,363) and Tallie Papke 12th (1,370) for the Kats.

Canisius was fourth and ECC seventh among 11 men’s teams. Derrick Geschwend led the Griffs with 1,592 for seventh place. Teammate James Leslie was eighth (1,552) another Griff, Dom D’Angelo, was 11th (1,531). Top ECC bowler was Garrett Gibson, who was 22nd with 1,472.

Pin chasers

• Manor Lanes in the Town of Tonawanda and the Tonawandas USBC Association will host the Western New York Queens Tournament on Sunday. It begins with a four-game qualifying round in three handicap divisions at 10 a.m. The top five will advance to stepladder finals in all three divisions.

Kaylee Hart was the 2013 winner in Division 1 (200 average and over) ending a two-year run by Michelle Sterner. Ashley Gluszek was the Division 2 (180-199 average) winner last year and Kelly Cycon the Division 3 (179 average and below) champion.

• Ryan Schafer of Horseheads, who competed here as a junior college bowler and is a popular figure when he makes Western New York appearances, was announced last week as the winner of the PBA’s 2012-13 Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award. It’s an honor Jack Jurek has won twice and Ryan Ciminelli received votes for this time.

Besides being a good guy on and off the lanes, Shafer has stood up to some personal struggles. First of all, he’s a diabetic, something he has to manage throughout the hectic life of a tour bowler.

Receiving his second Nagy was bittersweet for Shafer, whose wife, Michelle, had died unexpectedly only five days before the announcement. Eugene McCune of Munster, Ind., Shafer’s closest friend and a fellow PBA Tour competitor, accepted the award on Shafer’s behalf during ceremonies a week ago Friday in Allen Park, Mich., before the start of the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions.