The dramatic comeback couldn't be completed and there was no fairy tale ending for the Middle Country girls bowling team.
They were 47 pins shy in their pursuit of perfection, this season's glass slipper shoehorned by South Colonie (Section II) in the team state championship yesterday at Mardi Bob Lanes in Poughkeepsie.
The final tally was 5,564-5,517, but as the Cougars accepted their silver medals and held aloft the runner-up plaque, no eyes were damp and smiles flashed.
After coach Mandy Dominguez assured them that "second place is nothing to be ashamed of," the girls held hands and yelled, "1-2-3, MC. You know!"
"We made history in our school," said Rebekah Hall, whose team reached the state tournament for the first time. " . . . just winning our league and county and finishing second up here."
Middle Country trailed by 90 pins after three games, but rallied in the afternoon session, outscoring South Colonie in each game. But against a strong team, the deficit was too great.
"We had a lot of splits in the morning and had trouble getting it into the pocket," Dominguez said. "In the afternoon, they learned from the mistakes and showed determination."
The scene was reminiscent of Middle Country's showdown with East Islip in the Suffolk championship, when the teams were assigned adjacent lanes and exchanged strikes and screams until the Cougars' 21-pin win. They were stationed next to South Colonie in the afternoon and as Middle Country made its push, the groups went back and forth - in rolls and vocals.
"It was really intense," said Stephanie Buckley, who led South Colonie to its first title since 2005 with a 1,229 series. "They made it close and we wanted to keep our energy up and get loud. We wanted to get in their heads."
They didn't. The Cougars, a colorful and boisterous bunch themselves, outshot South Colonie 931-888 in the final game. Eighth-grader Kelly Skalacki led the way with a 1,174 series - fifth best in the tournament - and Nancymarie Joseph totaled 1,157.
"We bowled well, but they just did better," said Joseph, one of Middle Country's four seniors. "I don't mind losing to a deserving team."
Eva Bardun, a senior, will carry only the positive memories. The team's sudden ascension to Long Island's elite, the 16-0 regular season, the county championship and the medal, she said, "was a ride we enjoyed."
Division places ninth
The Division girls, Nassau's reigning force and winners of three of the last four county titles, finished ninth in the state tournament.
That they dropped 4,857 pins yesterday, more than 400 fewer than in the county championships.
Still, they made no excuses. Colleen O'Neil had a 985 series, Erica Schneider a 968 and Michele Fitzpatrick a 960.