State silver for Warwick

By on March 20, 2019
Warwick’s  Tyler  Miller  (far  left)  gets  congratulations  from  his  teammates  after  throwing  a  strike  in  the State finals against Cedar Crest last Saturday at Dutch Lanes. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Warwick’s Tyler Miller (far left) gets congratulations from his teammates after throwing a strike in the State finals against Cedar Crest last Saturday at Dutch Lanes. Photo by Missi Mortimer
Warwick Bowling

In battle of L-L rivals, Crest wins the crown

It was clear during the entire 2018-19 bowling season that two of the best high school bowling teams in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were Warwick and Cedar Crest.

It started in a couple of pre-season tournaments, when the two clubs met as the top two teams in the finals.

Each club won section titles in the regular season of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. They had the top two scoring averages (by team) in the league.

Then when the post-season began, the Warriors edged the Falcons 2-1 in the L-L League team semifinals before taking the crown from five-time reigning champ Penn Manor.

The two teams were 1-2 in the preliminary round of the Eastern Regional Team Tournament, each falling to eventual champ Wilson in the finals.

Last Saturday, they brought this rivalry to Dutch Lanes for the 28th Pennsylvania High School Team Championship. The 12 boys teams, six from the East and six from the West, and 12 girls teams toed the line at the standing room-only event.

Each team would bowl three complete games where each of five bowlers would throw all ten frames. Following that, all five would line up to bowl two frames each in six Baker Format games. Four teams would go to the finals.

The tournament officials posted results for only the first two games, so teams were in the dark, as to their standings, for much of the preliminary round. After round two, Warwick was first and Cedar Crest was second.

From there, the two leaders remained the same through the completion of the prelims.

What the Warriors and Falcons did not know was that the lead changed hands two times. The margin was never more than 35 pins. It ended with a five pin difference, and Warwick holding the top seed at 4,182-4,177.

Isaac Erickson rolled 216-233-190-639 to lead Warwick and receive All-State All-star recognition.

Behind Erickson, Tyler Miller (626), Carter Snavely (625), Tony Lutz (591) and Ashley Sham (590) showed just how deep and consistent the Warriors lineup is.

The best-of-three Baker Format would decide the champion in stepladder fashion.

Eastern Regional champ Wilson fell 2-1 to No. 3-seed Norwin in the quarterfinal, while Cedar Crest downed Norwin 2-0 in the semi-finals.

That brought the championship back to those two teams again, Warwick and Crest.

“In Baker, you want to have your best three strikers in holes three, four and five to finish off a game,” Warwick coach Neal Vital said. “I go with Ashley (Sham) first for her consistency in making marks (strikes and spares). She’s a senior and leads off the regular games. I just wanted her to be in her comfort zone.”

That worked for Sham, as she started the match with a strike and struck in three of her four frames during the championship final. Carter Snavely and Tyler Miller followed her with game one strikes of their own, as the Warriors took an early lead.

But when the Falcons came back with three straight strikes of their own in frames six, seven and eight, the advantage was gone, and Crest held on for a 204-192 win in game one.

The same result happened in the L-L Team Tournament at Canes Lanes in Manheim. In that series, Warwick came back to win the next two. However, they were not Baker games.

Game two was all about spares, and when the Falcons converted baby splits in both the seventh and ninth frames, the breaks were sliding toward the Section One champs.

State singles champ Kolby Bennett sealed the match by striking twice in the tenth frame, closing out the 196-169 victory.

“It was really tough to say those last words to them,” Vital admitted after the emotional loss. “I told them it’s been the best three years of my bowling life, and I’ve had a long, long career.”

With the 2nd-place finish, Warwick qualifies to make the trip to the National High School Championship in June, but that decision may come down to scheduling.

“All five of these kids qualified for Junior Gold in July,” Vital said. “It’s in the middle of July for a week, week and a half at least. We’re going to talk about it.”

When asked what made this particular group of bowlers click as a team, Vital started by saying that they grew up together, especially the seniors (Erickson, Lutz and Sham).

“Having three seniors is always going to make a team click,” Vital said. “Assuming they get along. I don’t think as a coach, you could have asked for a better three-some to guide a team.”

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