SYRACUSE - John Kavanaugh sat around the championship roundtable, reminiscing with his East Islip teammates about their former coach.
The late Rick Papandrea would always say, "Be the best that you can be. It's not over until the last ball of the last frame of the last game is thrown. Make a statement! Do the voodoo that you do!"
The more Kavanaugh and his teammates bowled Saturday at the state championship, the more they thought about those words, and the more they felt it helped them succeed.
"He was in our hearts today," Kavanaugh said of Papandrea, who died in 2012 after a seven-month battle with stomach cancer. "We came through for him today."
East Islip sure made a statement. Led by Kavanaugh, who rolled a 239 in the sixth and final game of a 1,238 series, East Isilp captured a state title at Strike 'N Spare Lanes.
"I couldn't be around a better cast of seniors," Kavanaugh said, referring to Nick DeFazio, Nick Salentino, Anthony Riggi and Matt Amin. "We stick together no matter what. This was the best bowling day of my life."
East Islip, which bowled its best series (1,084) in Game 6, bowled a 5,985 series. Fulton was second with a 5,814 series.
"I knew from the start that this was an amazing team that couldn't lose," said Salentino, who bowled a 231 in Game 6 of a 1,208 series. "We strive to be the best that we can be."
Riggi and Amin called it "a dream come true" to go out with a title. Each was most impressed with the team's performance in the final game.
"I think the last game really helped our chances to win it all," said DeFazio, who rolled a 224 in Game 6 of a 1,227 series. He bowled a 233 in Game 2.
"We started strong there and finished strong there. We always compete at the highest level possible."
Said East Islip coach Bob Cheadle, "We didn't panic. We fell behind early, but we stayed patient. We committed ourselves to what we practice, which is first ball in the pocket, and make your spares."
And do that voodoo they do!
Glickman leads Hewlett. Adam Glickman was the bright spot for Hewlett, which placed 10th with a 5,347 series.
"We can make up for lost pins. That was our philosophy throughout," said Glickman, who was second overall with a 217.83 average. "We tried our hardest and never gave up. We stayed strong the whole way through."