SCHENECTADY — A talented group of right-handers was told to keep moving left on the lanes every few shots, and the young Columbia High School team listened attentively.
By following their coach’s advice and executing like veterans, the Blue Devils surprisingly won the Section II Class A boys’ title Thursday at Boulevard Bowl and a trip to their first New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championship March 9 at 2 p.m. at Strike N Spare Lanes in Syracuse.
Columbia, coached by Section II co-coordinator Bill Neumann, who is also a PBA regional pro, dominated the tournament by knocking down 6,207 pins, 307 ahead of runner-up Colonie. Niskayuna, led by Dan Palmer’s 1,288 six-game block, was third with 5,730, and Mohonasen finished next with 5,519 pins.
Palmer was part of the Section II All-Section Composite team that also included Will Bickford of Glens Falls (1,311), Mick Winton of Johnstown (1,305), Francis Aiello of Shaker (1,299), Andrew Apollo of Guilderland (1,290) and Cian DiMezza of Canajoharie (1,252)
Sophomore Jason Hahn topped Columbia with a 1,313 total (691 triple in the morning, 622 in the afternoon) for the best performance of the day. Senior Kyle Fortin added a 1,250, followed by sophomore Zack Bogholtz (1,248), eighth-grader Tyler Bogholtz (1,220) and sophomore Ryan Lemay (1,176).
Columbia nearly wrapped up the title with a 3,179 morning block, and the Blue Devils remained consistent by shooting 3,028 in the afternoon.
“I watched the girls last week, and they don’t have the hand [power] to break it down like the boys do. They struggled,” Neumann explained. “They kept missing to the right, and the ball didn’t come back. Then I watched the Class B and the Class C/D. There was more head oil, and this is a modified house shot. Once they broke the lanes down, it really broke down. I just kept telling them that every third time they were on the same lane to make a move to the left. I kept preaching that, and most of them listened. Overall, they made the right moves consistent throughout the match. They started around the 10th board and ended up around the 18th by the end of the day.”
As a part-time regional pro himself, Neumann certainly knows how to make the right moves on the lanes, but he was surprised how well his team performed.
“I knew they were capable, but I’m a horse bettor, and if you asked me to put $2 down, I probably wouldn’t put my money down on them. They all throw the ball really great, but sometimes their heads get in the way,” Neumann said.
“Today, these guys bowled fantastic. We tried to stay ahead of when the shot broke down and for the most part, we did. I tried to tell them that the only time to make a move is when three things happen — you hit your target within a board or two, you have the right speed, and you threw it with the right amount of hand. If you do all those three things and the ball still doesn’t do what you want, then you make a move. That doesn’t mean change balls yet. That means to make a move. I usually start off with a less aggressive ball and keep making at least three moves before I change balls. That’s my philosophy.”
“I know the girls won a title before, but I had no clue that the boys had not won a title before,” Fortin said. “He’s a great coach. He knows what he’s doing. I pretty much kept moving left. He knew when to move and told us when to move. We thought that after we shot 3,000 in the morning, we’ve got it in hand. We had some buffer room. To be honest, though, I thought we were too young to win it.”
Columbia 6,207, Colonie 5,900, Niskayuna 5,730, Mohonasen 5,519, Guilderland 5,514, South Glens Falls 5,495, Averill Park 5,490, Gloversville 5,385, Saratoga Springs 5,366, Shenendehowa 5,334, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 5,291, Amsterdam 5,204, Shaker 5,084, Schenectady 5,054, Bethlehem 4,871, CBA 4,837, Troy 4,824, Albany 4,514, Ballston Spa 4,469, Queensbury 4,128.
Jason Hahn (Columbia) 691, Joe Keller (Averill Park) 690, Will Bickford (South Glens Falls) 678.
Jeff Harris (Colonie) 289, Andrew Apollo (Guilderland) 274, Jake Dillenbeck (Schenectady) 269.
All-Section Composite Team
Will Bickford (South Glens Falls) 1,311, Mick Winton (Johnstown) 1,305, Francis Aiello (Shaker) 1,299, Andrew Apollo (Guilderland) 1,290, Dan Palmer (Niskayuna) 1,288, Cian DiMezza (Canajoharie) 1,252.