BOYS' GREAT SEASON COMES UP ONE GAME SHORT
In 2016, the Warren Hills Boys Bowling team won the first sectional title in program history. It was a very good team, led by seniors Ryan Stephany, Alex Cole and Justin Walker. But after losing those three seniors, the 2017-18 Blue Streaks were probably expected by most to take at least a small step back, as they were replacing the three graduates with one good senior with varsity experience (Jake Irwin) and two bowlers without varsity experience, Junior Avante Wilson and Freshman Ryan Monahan. We didn't need to worry.
The Blue Streaks had a great season, dominating the Skyland Conference (62-1 record), winning the conference tournament, finishing third at H/W/S despite a team-wide flu, finishing sixth at the Central Jersey Winter Classic in a field that included most of the top teams in the state, spending most of the season in the state Top 20, and winning their second straight North 2 Group III title, this time with the highest score in the building.
On Friday, the Streaks got another crack at the state finals, in an absolutely loaded Group III field. How loaded? Well, the boys had a pretty good game 1, with Jake and Ryan hitting 190, Eric posting 201, and Darryl absolutely on fire, finishing at 264. The team total was 1004. The Streaks beat the #2 team in the state, Woodbridge. And yet, six other teams scored higher, led by Monroe's 1092. Clearly, this was not going to be easy.
The Streaks didn't drop off much in game 2: Darryl was still locked in, shooting 236. Eric came up with a strong 227. Avante shook off a disastrous first five frames with a flurry of strikes to finish at 187. The team total of 990 was fifth in the field, and Warren Hills' two-game total of 1994 was sixth. Monroe was way out ahead of everyone at 2175, but the WH boys were only 49 pins out of second and had a reasonable chance to make a run at a high finish.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way. Eric managed a 201 game (for a 629 set) and Ryan had his best game of the event with a 202, but transitioning lanes, missed spares, and the sinking feeling that it was all over crept into the picture. It should it any way put a damper on what this team, which very few thought would be this good, accomplished this season. The 2017-18 Streaks boys deserve an awful lot of credit for the season they put together, and the parents, families and friends are all very proud of them.
Eric, Avante, Ryan and Max, as well as Cody and Antonio, will form the (very talented) core of another Streaks team next year. And to the departing seniors, Darryl, Jake and Jack, we say congratulations on being part of the most successful run in program history, thanks for contributing to Warren Hills bowling success, and best of luck on whatever comes next.
GROUP III FINALS
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