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Salute to the Champs: Middle Country girls bowlers find inspiration

Took first out of nine teams at the state tournament at Syracuse.

Middle Country's Amanda Scarfogliero competes in the NYSPHSAA

Middle Country's Amanda Scarfogliero competes in the NYSPHSAA Bowling Championships at the The OnCenter in Syracuse, New York on Sunday, March 11, 2018. Photo Credit: Heather Ainsworth

Nothing beats winning the state championship, but the Middle Country girls bowling team will always remember the huge rally in the Suffolk championship that made their state crown possible.

After leading by 248 pins through five games, the combined team of Newfield and Centereach found themselves down by 43, entering the final game of the Suffolk title match.

That was when Newfield’s Amanda Scarfogliero bowled her best game when it mattered most — a 256 in Game 6 to push her team to a 6,454-6,412 victory over East Islip.

“In any sport, it’s very difficult if you lose a lead late in the game to come back,” Middle Country coach Mandy Dominguez said. “And they did. I’m very proud of them in that respect.”

In Syracuse, Middle Country took first among nine teams and had a 5,332 in the six-game series. Middle Country edged runner-up Orchard Park by 118 pins (5,157). Hannah Skalacki of Newfield said that instead of being nervous about an unfamiliar oil pattern on the lanes, the team did some research on the Oncenter’s lanes.

“It actually made us excited,” the freshman said. “That place is brand-new and there’s really no such thing as a bad pair in a brand-new bowling alley. We really liked the place. It was definitely different. The scoreboards were all the way in the back on a big screen.”

Skalacki led the way in the state finals, rolling the second-highest series out of any of the girls on the nine teams (1,163). Nicole Lettich of Newfield had a 1,150 which ranked fourth. Scarfogliero’s 1,100 six-game series was seventh-best.

During a 9-1 regular season, five bowlers placed in the top 15 in average in Suffolk. Skalacki (223.37, first), Lettich (207.97, eighth), and Scarfogliero (207.27, ninth), along with Allison Burfeindt (206.2) and Julie Acosta (202.17) both of Newfield.

Compared to only one last year, Dominguez had five bowlers average 200 or better.

Scarfogliero said this made Middle Country powerful. After winning consecutive matches during the regular season, she had a great feeling they had a good chance at the county and even state titles.

“After the state tournament experience, the feeling of winning just stuck with me and got stronger and stronger,” she said.

Skalacki, Newsday’s Girls Bowler of the Year, said the key to the season was practice.

“Everyone improved at their own rate and everyone improved with their mental game and how they treat each other,” she said. “We all grew up and became closer.”

Dominguez, Newsday’s Coach of the Year, is retiring and credits his four seniors and experienced bowlers with the team’s success this season. And each practice, Middle Country, consisting of bowlers from Newfield and Centereach, play more than three games.

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