The Orchard Park girls bowling team and its faithful shed tears of joy at the end of the Section VI tournament, as the Quakers happily celebrated another championship moment. The Quakers did it with a performance that likely left their opponents crying "no mas, no mas."
Orchard Park captured its second sectional team championship in three years Thursday, finishing with a winning total of 5,557 pins at Airport Lanes.
Led by the consistent bowling of overall tournament champion Paige Bartosz, the Quakers scored 865 or better as a team in each of their six games – including one with an eye-popping total of 1,016 – to finish ahead of runner-up and ECIC rival Frontier by 383 pins in Division I.
"It's very emotional (moment)," said Bartosz, a junior who bowled a 631 three-game set in the afternoon en route to a six-game total of 1,200. "I'm so happy I get to go to states with my whole team."
Meanwhile, Cheektowaga will be the first Section VI Division II girls team to advance to the state tournament. The Warriors won with 4,945 pins. Division and town rival Maryvale followed with 4,818.
The Division I and II champions along with the six individuals who met the qualifying standards advance to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Tournament on March 10-11 at OnCenter in Syracuse.
To put Orchard Park's showing into further perspective, the Frontier boys team posted a Section VI championship-clinching total of 5,601 Wednesday on the same oil pattern the girls used, which will also be the pattern waiting for competitors at states.
"That’s pretty impressive for a girls' team to be 40 something points lower than the boys' champion," Section VI girls chairman and Niagara Falls coach Ed Ventry said. "It wasn't a record (total), but very, very impressive on that oil pattern. If they bowl that at states they'll be in the conversation to win."
Bartosz set the tone for Orchard Park, according to boys team coach Joe Biondo, who filled in for ailing girls pilot Kim Caliguri, who is battling the flu. Bartosz, the team's lead-off bowler, showed the way by staying on her mark. When she wasn't rolling strikes, she left herself with makeable spares.
She did it better than anyone else Thursday.
"Going through I didn't think I was going to win, but I did well during the second half of the tournament and it paid off," said Bartosz, who was also a member of the Quakers when they went to states in 2016.
Still, a team doesn't win a title without contributions from every bowler. The Quakers, who won their third tournament of the season, received just that – including a 279 game from third-year team captain Danielle Milo. She finished with the second-highest score of the tournament with 1,183. Alexis Klenke finished fourth overall with 1,130. Sarah Radt 1093 and Emily Brock 930 completed the scoring for OP.
"We made our spares, we were able to be consistent in our marks and that's what won it today," Milo said.
Cheektowaga took the lead in Division II after the second game and never relinquished it. The Warriors shot 800 or better in five of their six games as a team led by Emily Crone's 1,127 series and Emma Roma's 1,092. Paige Onisk rolled a 940, Caitlin Kirst 897 and Krista Hoctor 889.
Cheektowaga won the Section VI Invitational at Airport Lanes on the same oil pattern used Thursday back on Feb. 3 and co-coaches Dan Kaplan and Jerry Carroll said that provided the team with the confidence to earn its first trip to states after recent near misses.
"They just battled. … It was good to see them finish the job today," Kaplan said. "This is the first Cheektowaga team to go to states. Being the first to represent this area in Division II is an honor."
The six individuals who qualified for the state tournament are Frontier's Brittany McAndrews (1,177), Lancaster's Janelle Pezzimenti (1,122), Allegany-Limestone's Cameron Spring (1,102), Amherst's Kelly Normandin (1,091), Forestville's Ashley Forbes (1,048) and Pioneer's Cassandra Green (1,043).
Story topics: Alexis Klenke/ Ashley Forbes/ Brittany McAndrews/ Caitlin Kirst/ Cameron Spring/ Cassandra Green/ cheektowaga/ Dan Kaplan/ Danielle Milo/ Emily Brock/ Emily Crone/ Emma Roma/ Janelle Pezzimenti/ Jerry Carroll/ Kelly Normandin/ Krista Hoctor/ Orchard Park/ Paige Bartosz/ Paige Onisk/ Sarah Radt/ Section VI girls bowling