East Meadow, Sachem East fight hard at state bowling championship

East Meadow's Jeff Juarez warms up during the

East Meadow's Jeff Juarez warms up during the NYSPHSAA state bowling championships at Babylon Bowl on Saturday, March 1, 2014. (Credit: Richard T. Slattery)

Jeff Juarez had a tough time getting used to the Babylon Lanes during the state bowling championships in West Babylon Sunday.

But in his final season with East Meadow, Juarez and his teammates could hold their heads high after placing fifth, which was in the middle of the pack.

The Jets, with 5,454 total pins, had a moment when medaling was a possibility: at one point they were in third place during the fifth game, but they just couldn't hold on.

Buffalo Frontier finished first with 5,987 pins and its Chad Mee placed first after a game-high 248 in Game 2 of a 1,346 series.

"We pulled together in the end and that's what it's all about," said Juarez, who had a game-high 219 in Game 1 of a team-best 1,193 series that put them in seventh.

"I didn't throw it as well as I wanted to because the lanes burnt up faster than I thought. We were a little uptight, not able to relax, loosen up."

Said East Meadow coach Andrew Ghirardi: "I'm not going to make any excuses for my team. We stuck it out from the first shot to the last shot. This was nice for the seniors like Jeff. We put up a good showing all year and had fun."

Nick Caruana and Sachem East had similar issues with the lanes and also made the best of it. The Flaming Arrows placed seventh overall (5,439 pins) and Caruana was sixth with a game-high 233 in Game 4 of a 1,195 series.

This season, Caruana broke the Suffolk single-season record with a 236.3 average and led Sachem East to the county title for the first time since 2010.

"The ball picked up a roll too early and it didn't get down the lane efficiently," said Caruana, a sophomore. "It was unreliable. I was throwing it harder and the ball was hooking more."

Flaming Arrows coach Mike Stanek said the reason the boys were throwing harder was because the lanes didn't have as much oil on them and that they dried up quicker.

Sachem East averaged 905 pins over the six games, compared to a 1,059 team average during the regular season. Joe Bambara led Saturday with a game-high 215 in Game 1 of a 1,139 series.

"Everybody's average was down because the conditions were tough," Stanek said.

For East Meadow, which this season won its first county championship since 2006, it wasn't all bad. There was still reason to be positive.

"We did an awesome job getting that county title," Juarez said. "It made the season sweet."

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