A determined Manchester High School girls bowling team went against Brick Memorial in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final on Monday.
Brick Memorial bested the Hawks last year in the final.
“We fell flat,” Manchester junior Julia Ott said. “Once we learned we were going against Brick Memorial for the second time, there was no way we were going to let it happen again.”
The Hawks didn’t let it happen. They bested the Mustangs 3½-2½ at Brunswick Zone.
The fourth-seeded Hawks rolled 170, 214, 191, 200, 154 and 218 games. The top-seeded Mustangs countered with 191, 192, 191, 181, 192 and 179 games.
“Our mindset was that we would do our best and we made it,” Ott said. “This is an amazing experience — heartwrenching — but we did it. I loved every second of it. The key to the win was team unity. Through the year, we worked as hard as we could. We did well in some tournaments. We were flat in others. Our mindset today was that we would give it our all.”
Seconds after the match, Brick Memorial coach Dave Thompson clapped his hands six times and called to the Hawks, “Excellent job girls, congratulations,” while standing behind the Manchester bench.
Manchester parent Steve Ott, the father of Julia Ott, yelled to the Hawks from the concourse, “Where do you go now, girls?” The team shouted, “Disney World.”
“Being in this moment is indescribable,” said Julia Ott, the Hawks’ anchor bowler. “One strike leads to another. When I come back and see the faces of my teammates after rolling a strike, the feeling is indescribable.”
Event director Newlin Schoener praised both teams after the match.
“It was a battle of endurance,” he said. “It took 384 lines to reach the state championship this year.”
“It was a matter of which team wanted it more and which team believed it could do it,” said ninth-year Manchester coach Mike McCrae, who took the Hawks to the title in 2009 and 2012. “It was a matter of stamina. The girls pushed. They did the job.”
The action took place on lanes 29 and 30.
“They played much differently,” McCrae said. “The right lane hooked a lot more.”
The Hawks advanced to the final with a 3-0 win in the semifinals over the second-seeded Brick Green Dragons, whose coach, Cara Lukosius, is retiring at the end of this season. Manchester rolled 215, 172 and 211 games. Brick rolled games of 200, 164 and 202.
Brick Memorial ousted fourth-seeded Manasquan 3-0 in the semifinals on games of 246, 197 and 170. The Warriors fired games of 144, 129 and 164.
Manchester won the Group II state title for the seventh time in school history to advance to the semifinals. Ott led the Hawks with a 182-225-235-642 series. The Hawks also won the crown last year, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.
Brick Memorial captured Group IV behind sophomore Tori Boughton (205-278-203-686). Brick won Group III for the fourth straight time in Lukosius’ four-year tenure. Senior Karsynn Lukosius, the daughter of the coach, keyed the win with a 235-212-233-680. Brick has won a record 10 Group titles overall — each in Group III.
Manasquan captured Group I. Senior Bryce Petraccoro led the Warriors with a 234-233-213-680.
Boughton won state high game honors with a 278.
“Moving inside was the key,” she said. “That kept the ball from reacting too much. It’s amazing to win, to have the highest game in the state as a sophomore. There were no real jitters. It was not my goal to win it, but I did not doubt I could not do it.
“I normally don’t have much success here, but I bowled well here today.”