WAVERLY, N.Y. -- Bittersweet was the feeling for the East Islip girls bowling team Saturday.
There were some tears: The disappointment of having a state title slip away late; the frustration of an amazing season ending a step short. But, as well, there were cheers: a reminder, from their coach and amongst themselves, that there is no shame in silver.
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"We're not going home champions," East Islip senior Nancy Baione said, "but we're certainly not going home losers."
Niagara Falls toppled 5,526 pins, including 1,928 in the final two games, to get past East Islip in the state tournament Saturday at Waverly's Valley Bowling Center. The Redmen, who led for most of the competition, had 5,478 pins for second place. Sewanhaka District took third with a 5,321 pinfall.
"It's exciting and upsetting," said Alexa DeFazio, a senior, who had a 1,110 series, including a tournament-high 257 in Game 3. "It's frustrating, but at the same time, I'm proud of the girls and it's incredible what we did this season."
What East Islip did was breeze through league play (12-0), post a 1,044 team average that bettered even the best boys teams, and dominated the Suffolk tournament with a 6,469 series -- a total 13 shy of the record they set last season.
It wasn't that East Islip came up short down the stretch; Niagara Falls, the Section VI champion, came up big. The Redmen, up 3,673-3,598 after four games, rolled 1,805 in the last two. But it wasn't enough to keep up with the Wolverines, led by Hailey Johnson (1,243) and Angela Gabriel (1,198).
"We were looking at [East Islip] when they were ahead and they were impressive," said Gabriel, an eighth-grader who threw nine strikes in Game 6. "After the fourth game, we realized we were doing well and it was close, and that kind of pumped us up and everything clicked."
Baione had a 1,147 series, Lena Sorrentino a 1,075 and Kristina Freitag a 907 for the Redmen, who graduate three seniors.
"Our goal was to do better than last year," East Islip coach Harold Cooley said. His team took third in last season's state tournament. "If we're lucky enough to get back here next year and beat what we did this year -- there's only one spot left for us to claim."
Rebecca Gotterbarn's 1,205 series -- second best in the tournament -- led Sewanhaka District to a bronze medal. Kristina Genova rolled 1,143, including a 237 in Game 3, Amanda Estevez had 992 and Danielle Roca 986.
"If someone told me we'd take third beforehand, I'd take it," Sewanhaka District coach Jay Hegi said. The team is composed mostly of underclassmen and graduates two seniors. "That bodes really well for our future. We have a lot of talent and youth that's only getting better."
The Indians, who won their first Nassau title in five years, made the jump from fifth to third place in the third game and bowled a 2,668 afternoon series to maintain the position.