FISHKILL – The North Rockland girls bowling team spent all 300 frames of Wednesday’s Section 1 tournament with their arms around one another while watching whichever teammate happened to be up at that moment bowl.
Call it a united front, or a wall of defense in a sport that is strictly an offensive game, the Red Raiders sent a message from the first ball of the day that carried through until anchor Deanna Jones’ 10-pin spare in the final frame: Win or lose, North Rockland was going to do it as a team.
“I started it with four girls, then I said, “OK, let’s get the rest of the team,’ ” Jones said. “Every time a girl would go up, they would leave and we’d shut the chain back up.”
“We saw it was kind of keeping us focused, in a way,” she added.
Jones, the lone senior on the Red Raiders, shot a 220 in her final game to take the Section 1 singles title by two pins with a 1,284 six-game series.
North Rockland, which earned its 12th consecutive section title, fell into an early hole after averaging just 170 per bowler in the opening game. Jones and teammate Nicole Cona, who finished fourth overall in singles, shot 159 and 147, respectively, in the game.
“We’re mostly a second-half team,” said Cona, who averaged 220.4 for her final five games, including a 257 in the finale. “Later on in the first game we kind of figured it out. In the second game, we totally got the shot down.”
John Jay-East Fishkill, which led the team event through the morning block, finished in third place but will send three individuals — Victoria Pacacha, Jillian Burns and Julia Dahl — to the state tournament.
Pacacha was the section’s top average during the regular season (203.8), earning her and the rest of the top three automatic spots. Suffern’s Kayla Dobrinski (194.32) and North Rockland’s Mercedes Morel (192.34) also earned automatic berths at states.
Burns moved into Morel’s spot when North Rockland won the team event. Dahl earned her spot as one of the top three finishers at the section tournament who was not on the winning team or one of the top three averages.
Dobrinski finished fifth overall in singles and shot the high game of the tournament with a 289 out of the gate. The senior threw the first 10 strikes before wrapping a 10-pin.
“It was stressful, and I was shaking,” she said. “People were starting to stop, and I was like, ‘No, no, no, don’t stop — please keep bowling!”
The team state championships will be held on Mar. 5 at AMF Airport Lanes in Buffalo. The individual state championships will take place on Mar. 6.