The East Islip boys bowling team entered Saturday looking to capture its third consecutive Suffolk County team championship, but when things got off to a rocky start, sophomore Joseph Zagari knew he needed to say something.
“I told the guys after the first three games that we came here to be one of the most hyped teams and everybody thought we were going to win,” Zagari said. “I said to them that we needed to just put up numbers and go from there. After we shot 1,088 and 1,139 in Games 4 and 5, I knew we were locked in.”
Zagari was locked in all day long and rolled a 241 in Game 4 of a 1,350 six-game series to help East Islip to a three-peat at Bowlero in Sayville.
The Redmen finished first with 6,458 total pins and will represent Suffolk at the state championships, Mar. 8-10 in Syracuse. Sachem was second with 6,209 pins and Smithtown edged Connequot for third by one pin with a total of 6,127.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to start my first year with,” East Islip coach Judy Fischer said. “I’m going to give them a couple of days off to unwind, and then we are going to get right back to it.”
The Redmen trailed by 71 pins after the morning session (Games 1-3), but recognized that they still had three games left.
“There’s no question about it, if we bowl our averages we win,” said Sonny Pico, who had a 1,293 series. “We have five solid bowlers and if we all bowl to our full potential we will do fine at states.”
Aaron Rice threw a 249 in Game 1 of a 1,312 a six-game series and Christopher Andresen added a 1,301 series for the Redmen.
Rice amassed a 237.15 average during the regular season and finished with the highest average on Long Island for a second consecutive year.
“To come out on top for the third year in a row is an amazing feeling and a dream come true,” Rice said. “We work together so well and feed off each other. I think we have a great shot at winning the state title this year.”
In addition to East Islip, six other boys bowlers will make their way to Syracuse in March and comprise the Suffolk All-Star team. Nicholas Giovanniello (West Babylon), Avery Lugares (Commack), Kyle Perillo (Smithtown), Stephen Russell (Central Islip), Nick Anselmi (Copiague) and Hunter Levine (Sachem) will compete against the best bowlers in the state and will hope to lead Suffolk to its sixth title in the past seven years.