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Wayne Bellucci's 635 series leads St. John the Baptist in tight CHSAA bowling team championship

Wayne Bellucci of St. John the Baptist, right,

Wayne Bellucci of St. John the Baptist, right, gets congratulated after rolling a strike in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA boys bowling team championship against Kellenberg at AMF Wantagh Lanes on Saturday. Credit: James Escher

Five pins.

That represented the margin of victory between St. John the Baptist and Kellenberg Saturday afternoon in the CHSAA boys bowling team championship at Wantagh Lanes.

"It was so close and so nerve-wracking, but that’s when the phrase every shot counts, really comes into play," said Wayne Bellucci, a senior and two-year varsity starter.

Bellucci rolled a 225 in Game 1 and a match-high 242 in Game 2 of a 635 series to lead St. John the Baptist past Kellenberg, 5-4. Nick DiScala, a four-year varsity bowler, rolled a 215 in Game 3 of a 578 series in his final high school match. The Cougars tallied 3,264 pins and the Firebirds totaled 3,259.

"I’m holding back everything in me to not start crying right now. This was the best send off," DiScala said. "I knew from the start that I had a great team to work with. They all gave it their all, and I could not thank them enough for how much effort they put in."

St. John the Baptist (10-3) entered Game 3 leading by 67 pins and were ahead 3-1 on match points. Kellenberg’s Dylan Lopez was the last bowler to throw and ended the final game with a strike for a 215.

Both teams waited with bated breath for their coaches to tally the totals, and when they did, the Cougars were the ones holding the hardware.

Lopez had a 221 in Game 1 and finished with a 624 series. The Firebirds ended the year 11-2, with both losses coming against St. John the Baptist.

"Kellenberg put up a great season and have a ton of great bowlers," DiScala said. "It’s hard to believe it came down to just five pins. It’s just unbelievable."

The Cougars fell 57 pins short in last year’s CHSAA final to Chaminade, as the Flyers collected their ninth consecutive championship.

"To me personally, since 2012 it’s been a long road. We have been there a couple times in the finals and lost some tight battles, but you know what, we are here again and hopefully we will stay here," said coach Bob Hamilton, who captured his sixth CHSAA title in 29 years at the helm. "It’s a special moment. For our guys to step up like they did is so gratifying for me… I’m speechless."

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