GRAFTON — Victory tasted sweet to the Amherst boys bowling team Monday.
Maybe that’s because the Comets were so dominant in the Baker games.
Amherst trailed North Ridgeville by 23 pins heading into those games in the roll-off for the North Shore Bowling Conference championship at Grafton Bowling Center, then made up that difference and then some to put away the Rangers, 2,345-2,327.
Baker games are when each team member takes turns bowling a frame. They are held after the two individual games.
“It feels good to win the championship, but it would have been nicer to have gone 15-0 and not had to deal with this,” said Amherst junior Carl Haberstro, whose 451 (237-214) led the way.
Amherst and North Ridgeville finished the regular season at 14-1, forcing the one-match roll-off. As expected, it was highly competitive and close.
“These guys never cease to amaze me,” Amherst coach Denny Hoffman said. “I had all the confidence in the world heading into this that they would win. No disrespect to North Ridgeville — I totally respect every team we come up against. These guys knew they were in for a fight. North Ridgeville brought everything they had, and so did these guys.
“They never let me down and they bring everything they have every single week. I’ve been with these guys for five years, and these last two have been extra special. What these guys brought today was something special.”
The Comets, who defeated the Rangers in another close match during the season, used a 223 clean game (nothing but strikes and spares) in the first Baker to make up that 23-pin difference and take a 2,156-2,139 lead. They then finished things off with a 189-188 win in the second Baker.
Haberstro’s 237 and 214 were both clean games. He had eight strikes in his opening game, and six strikes and five spares in his second.
In fact, Haberstro kept his hot hand going during the two Baker games. His first strike in the 10th frame essentially clinched the match for Amherst.
“I came out here last week and shot in the 430s, so I had a feeling I could score the same here today,” said Haberstro, whose 217 average led the NSBC. “I knew I was going to hit my mark. I got lucky a few times, but I was rolling extremely well. I was confident in myself. I was confident in our team.
“We were down, but we had the fight in ourselves to bring it back up. We knew we had to pick up spares, and that first (Baker) game, we didn’t have to pick up many because we hit our spots and got the strikes.”
Hoffman spoke highly of his top bowler.
“Carl’s been a rock all year for us, and his average shows that,” Hoffman said. “But everyone really stepped up for us at different parts of the year, and even today. Justin Starbuck was consistent for us early in the year. Andrew Cser rolled a 209 in that first game that really helped us out.
“Even freshman Brandon Velasquez, who was struggling in that second game and we subbed him out after his fourth frame, came back with a clutch strike in that first Baker. It’s been a total team effort all year, and everyone on this team did something positive to help us win today.”
Gino DelMonico rolled a 402 (210-192) to aid the Comets’ performance. However, thanks a 430 by Joey Casement (226-204), a 423 by Austin Smith (212-211) and a 402 by Joey Peterson (207-195), the Rangers led 1,956-1,933 after the two regulation games.
“You’ve got two of the best teams in the conference right there, so it wasn’t surprising how competitive it was,” North Ridgeville coach Frank Kotas said. “Our records showed that. They were our only loss this year and they were able to come back and do it to us again.
“I thought we were on a pretty good track leading up to this match. We’ve been rolling toward the end of the season. Both teams bowled well. But our two Baker scores were probably our lowest ones of the year, and that was the difference.”
Hoffman felt the timing of this type of pressure-packed match was perfect for his team, which has state aspirations.
“I told the guys before we got started, ‘This is where the season starts now,’” he said. “What happened in league play is over and done. This was like an extra taste for them. This is tournament play before the tournament actually begins, and is what it’s all about. I told them, ‘Bring you’re A game today, because from here on in, it only gets better.’ There was definitely a tournament-type atmosphere here today.”
The NSBC postseason tournament will be held Sunday at Brunswick Zone in North Ridgeville with the sectional tournament to be held the following Sunday at Rebman’s Recreation in Lorain.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amherst 2,345, North Ridgeville 2,327
AMHERST (2,345): Carl Haberstro 451 (237-219), Gino DelMonico 402 (210-192), Collin Oursler 390 (188-202), Andrew Cser 209, Justin Starbuck 168, Cory Congelio 159, S.A.W 154. Baker games: 414 (223-189). Game 1: 1,012. Game 2: 921.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (2,327): Joey Casement 430 (228-204), Austin Smith 423 (212-211), Joey Patterson 402 (207-195), Tyler Davis 205, Ryan Kordish 167, S.A.W. #1 170, S.A.W. #2 159. Baker games: 371 (183-188). Game 1: 1,017. Game 2: 939.