New Year’s tournament title is new to West Milford bowler by Greg Tartaglia of The Record
LODI – Andrew Finke likes to try new things.
The West Milford senior played five different sports in his first three years of high school. He picked up two more in 2017-18, although bowling has remained a constant.
Finke helped the Highlander bowlers add some new hardware Saturday at Lodi Lanes. He anchored them to their first New Year’s Team Championships (NYTC) boys title, which culminated with a 3-0 win over Fair Lawn in the best-of-five Baker format finals.
Warren Hills entered the tournament for the first time, and held off feisty first-time finalist Mahwah, 3-2, for the girls crown.
Finke you very much
West Milford reached the eight-team boys playoff bracket by tallying a fifth-place 2,857 in qualifying. Finke was named to the boys all-star team after shooting a fourth-place 671 with a 256 high game.
The Highlanders dropped the first game of their best-of-3 quarterfinal and semifinal series before rallying to defeat No. 4 Howell and No. 1 Wayne Hills, respectively.
In the final frame versus Wayne Hills – whose 3,033 in qualifying featured an 1,123 game – Finke shot a 9-spare and added an eight on the fill ball to power a 176-161 win. The Patriots trailed by five entering the 10th frame but we saddled with a three-pin split.
“I’m a very competitive guy; I play a lot of sports, and I live for the pressure,” said Finke. “I love the 10th frame, especially in Baker games, when it’s all on you, and everyone’s watching. I just was ready to go.”
Finke switched from soccer to football this past fall and became a college recruit as a placekicker. Bowling and basketball remain his winter sports, and in the spring, he’s sticking with golf while planning to move from baseball to volleyball.
West Milford had last reached the NYTC final in 2015, when none of the current bowlers were on the varsity.
“Andrew is back, and now I’ve got his sister [Amanda] starting as a freshman,” Highlanders coach John Caillie said. “I’ve got Ralph [Utter] as a freshman… and Tyler Nichol and Mike Nicholas, they’re both juniors.
“This was big,” Caillie added. “I’m hoping this carries through into the [Jan. 19] county tournament.”
After opening the season with a victory in the Crusader Classic, Mahwah put itself in position for another title by reaching the girls final as the No. 6 seed.
The Thunderbirds defeated Holy Angels in the quarterfinals, 2-1, with Sam Schawe converting a 6-7-10 split early in Game 3 to spur them on to a 161-129 win. They bested Ramsey in three games in the semis to earn their final spot against the 2017 State Tournament of Champions winner.
No. 1 Warren Hills took the first two games handily, 225-148 and 208-116, before Mahwah answered with wins of 179-173 (featuring a clutch, 10th-frame spare by Allie Adamski) and 201-165.
“The pressure wasn’t on us,” T-Birds coach Jim Dalessio said. “We’re the underdog here, and there’s no better place to be, than under the radar and surprising opponents.
“Warren Hills is a phenomenal program, and those girls are amazing,” he added, “but I’m glad we gave them a good fight.”
The Blue Streaks took Game 5, 182-149. They reached the final after a quarterfinal bye and a 2-0 semifinal win over Howell.
Warren Hills produced winners at both tournaments hosted by the Fairleigh Dickinson women’s bowling team this winter. Sophomore Ryan Monahan captured the North Jersey Singles Championships (NJSC) boys title last month.
The NJSC and NYTC crowns carried added significance in that they were the first ones earned by the Blue Streaks since the passing of longtime coach Greg Rottengen last August.
“He was my youth coach as well,” and emotional Warren Hills senior Katie Winch said Saturday. “After he passed, I got a ball that belonged to him, and that was the ball I threw most of the day. So not only is he in my thoughts, I know he’s with me all the time.”
FDU New Year’s Team Championships
Qualifying Round (Top 8 advance): 1. Wayne Hills 3,033; 2. North Bergen 2,954; 3. North Arlington 2,925; 4. Howell 2,889; 5. West Milford 2,857; 6. Ridgewood 2,839; 7. Fair Lawn 2,744; 8. NV/Demarest 2,716; 9. Warren Hills 2,676; 10. Bergen Tech 2,655; 11. Mahwah 2,648; 12. Paramus Catholic 2,553; 13. Lyndhurst 2,544; 14. Pascack Valley 2,475; 15. Westwood 2,456; 16. Dumont 2,431; 17. Indian Hills 2,380; 18. Harrison 2,379; 19. Hawthorne 2,156; 20. Bergenfield 2,122; 21. Leonia 2,041; 22. Secaucus 1,664; 23. West Caldwell Tech 1,598.
Quarterfinals (Best-of-3 Baker games): Wayne Hills def. NV/Demarest, 2-0; West Milford def. Howell, 2-1; Ridgewood def. North Arlington, 2½-½; Fair Lawn def. North Bergen, 2-0.
Semifinals (Best-of-3 Baker games): West Milford def. Wayne Hills, 2-1; Fair Lawn def. Ridgewood, 2-1.
Final (Best-of-5 Baker games): West Milford def. Fair Lawn, 3-0.
All-Tournament Team: 1. Eric McKenna (North Arlington), 710; 2. Tom Luchetta (Wayne Hills), 680; 3. Christopher Lopez (North Bergen), 676; 4. Andrew Finke (West Milford), 671; 5. Jordan Tse (NV/Demarest), 659.
Qualifying Round (Top 7 advance): 1. Warren Hills 2,559; 2. Ramsey 2,431; 3. Holy Angels 2,362; 4. Howell 2,303; 5. Hackensack 2,273; 6. Mahwah 2,121; 7. Ridgewood 2,098; 8. Wayne Valley 2,091; 9. Bergen Tech 1,999; 10. Paramus Catholic 1,989; 11. NV/Demarest 1,910; 12. Fair Lawn 1,861; 13. Dumont 1,752; 14. Secaucus 1,697.
Quarterfinals (Best-of-3 Baker games): Howell def. Hackensack, 2-1; Mahwah def. Holy Angels, 2-1; Ramsey def. Ridgewood, 2-0.
Semifinals (Best-of-3 Baker games): Warren Hills def. Howell, 2-0; Mahwah def. Ramsey, 2-1.
Final (Best-of-5 Baker games): Warren Hills def. Mahwah, 3-2.
All-Tournament Team: 1. Krista Eskow (Fair Lawn), 643; 2. Amelia Brunda (Holy Angels), 631; 3. Marissa Cosentini (Wayne Valley), 599; 4. Alisha Khan (Paramus Catholic), 594; 5. Katie Winch (Warren Hills), 569.