Sauquoit – Orchard Hall is a very different bowling alley, and Thursday afternoon it hosted a very different pair of high school matches. “They’re still running good,” owner Gary Puleo said of the machines at the eight-lane facility that also is a restaurant and banquet hall. “The machines and lanes were put in in 1950.”
The match had an old-fashioned feel to it as Sauquoit Valley’s teams hosted Sherburne-Earlville’s girls and New York Mills’ boys. Unlike modern alleys, players have to write scores down at Orchard Hall and that added to the charm of the place. There’s very little room for bowlers, let alone fans, so it was crowded and exciting.
“It’s a lot harder,” Sauquoit Valley’s Kaleb Elliott said of how the lanes compare to other alleys. “But I think we’re doing pretty well.”
Elliott had Sauquoit Valley’s best score in the first game with a 190, but it wasn’t enough to help his team win the point. NYM, behind better depth, won it 740-718. Evan Hall rolled a 176 to pace Coach David Zebrowski’s Marauders and Justin Mikalajunas added a 164.
As for the girls, there was excitement at the start as the hosts seized an unexpected lead after four frames. Coach Dawn Dando’s S-E team beat Sauquoit Valley badly the day before at S-E, but fell behind as Becca held, Lauren Leitz and Charlien Liddy had great starts. Held and Leitz opened with three spares apiece and Liddy picked up a tough spare in the third frame to help give Coach Brett Cardillo’s team hope for an upset.
“Last year we were undefeated,” Dando said of her S-E girls. “But we graduated two girls, and this is a tough place to bowl.”
Jordyn Paul and Alyssa Miles, two of the returnees, finished well in the first game for S-E to have scores of 165 and 142 respectively and Sydney Bennett added a 136 to give S-E a 606-553 win.
“The girls started fantastic,” Cardillo said between games. “It gives us a chance. It’s good to see. They’re improving, and that’s what you want to see.”
The boys improved in the second game and forged a rare tie with NYM by rolling a 746.
“It’s very rare,” Cardillo said.
But the chatter throughout the match was anything but. Teammates constantly encouraged each other and even opponents, fans cheered and the coaches offered words of wisdom constantly.
“Get the head pin. Start out more to the left. Throw a straight ball for this. This is a close game, you gotta get the spare,” Zebrowski was heard to say often.
“You’re entitled to a bad game. You’ve got to put it behind you and get back into it in the next one,” Cardillo told one boy who had a sub-par game.
Cardillo was busier than most as a pin occasionally wound up where the machine could not reach it to sweep it away, so the veteran coach removed his shoes and walked down the lane to move it away then carefully came back to encourage his players.
There were plenty of highlights as the matches wore on. For Sauquoit Valley’s girls, Leitz had back-to-back strikes in the first game while all five S-E bowlers had a strike or spare in the ninth frame to help rally their team to the first point.
For NYM’s boys, Tyler Bullen had five strikes in the first six frames of the second game while Joe Schaaf had five in his first seven and Nick Acee closed with six strikes in his last seven rolls. That sort of effort gave Zebrowski hope for the future as he was missing his top bowler, state tourney veteran Rob Kinville. Kinville had to miss the match due to a driver’s education class.
Sauquoit Valley’s boys had a pleasant surprise when Zach Held subbed into the lineup in the second game and rolled a 157, good for third best on the team behind Elliott’s 171 and Josh Crandall’s 165.
Things got even better for the Sauquoit Valley boys as they won the third game and edged NYM 2,186-2,141 in total pins to win the match 3.5-1.5. Elliott had the high series with a 523 while Bullen had a 448 for NYM’s best effort.
On the girls side, S-E steadily pulled away to win 5-0 as Paul had a 440 series. Leitz and Miranda Floyd tied for Sauquoit Valley’s high series at 356.