Bailey Lubrano's spare in final frame helps St. Dominic hold off SJB

The St. Dominic girls bowling team celebrate with

The St. Dominic girls bowling team celebrate with their trophies after defeating St. Sohn the Baptist Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Back-to-back championships? For the St. Dominic girls bowling team?

"Yeah, right," senior Sarah Minicozzi said. "Never."

That was her thought three years ago, and it was one several teammates shared. St. Dominic formed its team only a month before the 2011 season and coach Mike Gordek scrambled to fill a roster, mostly by begging girls from his softball team to join.

"I hadn't bowled before, except a couple times at birthday parties," Minicozzi said. "But I thought it might be fun, not expecting it to be too competitive or for us to be any good."

Wrong. On both counts.

Because in a competitive CHSAA final, the Bayhawks proved again they are good, edging rival St. John the Baptist, 5-4, Tuesday to capture a second straight championship.

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Meaghan Barbari rolled a 465 series, Bailey Lubrano a 458 and Minicozzi a 457 to lead top-seeded St. Dominic (12-0) at Farmingdale Lanes. Erica DeSimone bowled a 377.

Lubrano's 186 in Game 3 -- including a spare in the 10th frame -- helped the Bayhawks hold off No. 4 St. John the Baptist, 2,478-2,421, in total pinfall.

In the CHSAA playoffs, teams are split into A and B squads, and the head-to-head victories count for a point. St. Dominic dominated the A games, but the Cougars controlled the B, thus the victor was decided by the number of pins toppled. The Bayhawks entered Game 3 only 21 pins ahead.

"The pressure was crazy on my last shot," said Lubrano, a sophomore and one of the converted softball players. Her older sister, Taylor, had been one of the team's first members. "Your mind is all over the place during the last game, so it's all about locking in and doing what you've been doing all year."

St. Dominic stunned the league in its inaugural season and reached the final, where it fell to SJB, which captured its second straight title then. Last season, the Bayhawks won only two regular-season matches but pulled a series of upsets in the playoffs and edged the Cougars in the final. This time, St. Dominic was the undefeated favorite.

"It's definitely tougher when the target is on your back, but my girls have handled it all along," said Gordek, who was named Coach of the Year after the match. "When the pressure was on today, they delivered again."

Caroline Herrera shot a 586 and Leanne Costantino a 486 for SJB (8-4).

The league's top boys and girls bowlers will compete in the CHSAA individual tournaments Thursday at 4 p.m. at Syosset Lanes.

Making St. Dominic's run more remarkable is that it's been done mostly with girls who hadn't previously been avid bowlers. Much of their development has come on the fly.

"Everyone started practicing from the summer and we took it more seriously," Minicozzi said. "Last year gave us confidence that we could succeed at this and we wanted it. The idea of us winning two championships made everyone more focused."

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And St. Dominic winning back-to-back championships?

Yeah. Right.

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