ROCHESTER, N.Y. — “One pin.” “A single pin!”
The whispers became full-throated statements of disbelief. Some of the East Islip boys bowlers shook their heads. Others sat and didn’t move in stunned silence.
Coach Bob Cheadle looked up at the East Islip scoreboard one last time, and then over at North Rockland’s.
The unfathomable was slowly becoming a painful reality for East Islip, as well as its families and friends who came upstate in good numbers and unbridled enthusiasm. But the nearly 390-mile trip back home will be a rough one for the Redmen.
North Rockland (Section I), which entered the sixth and final game and trailed front-running East Islip by 93 pins, rolled a 995 in the finale and ended with 5,743 to win the NYSPHSAA state boys bowling championship in a 10-team field at Gates Lanes, yesterday. East Islip finished second with a 5,742 after a 901 in Game 6.
“I never thought it was that close,” said East Islip’s James Spina, who was fourth overall with a 1,228 six-game series.
Spina was the Redmen’s anchor (final bowler) all day. He stepped to the line in the tenth frame of Game 6 not knowing how tight things were. He threw a beautiful ball on his first toss but left two pins standing. After a spare, he rolled a nine on his — and East Islip’s — final throw of the tournament. He ended with a 222 for Game 6, the only Redmen to crack the 200 mark in that game.
“I wish I could,” Spina said, “but I can’t go back and fix it.”
Guilderland (Section II) placed third (5,687). Nassau champ Hewlett was sixth (5,453) paced by Bryan Krinick (1,143, who was 11th overall), Dillon Ristano (1,129; 15th) and Zane Lipson (1,117; 20th).
But the story was the heartbreaking loss for East Islip, looking for its third title in program history after winning in 2008 and 2015.
“I just wish we would have made some more of those left-over spares,” said Justin Orobello, who ended with a 1,085 series. Senior Vinny Altman was sixth with an 1,181 series, and Anthony Valente was 14th (1,135).
“We could have done this and that,” Altman said, “but there’s not much more we could have really done.”
Junior Eric Tadler came off the bench to bowl the final three games and gave EI a spark. Tadler rolled a 222 in the fourth and fifth games, and helped the Redmen move into first place after Game 4. But it was a lead they couldn’t hold.
“It’s going to hurt for awhile,” Cheadle said. “But we’ll be back next year.”