Taconic Takes County Title
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – After an 18-month period that saw the Taconic bowling team lose a season to a pandemic and a bowling alley to a wrecking ball, Taconic rocketed to a county championship.
Andrew Robitaille anchored his team to a pair of 4-2 wins, edging Wahconah in the semi-finals and Lee in the final match on Friday afternoon at Cove Lanes.
Taconic ended the regular season double round-robin in first place in the Berkshire County League, and Friday’s performance sends it into the March 5 State Championships with a title under its belt.
But things did not always look quite so rosy for Taconic this winter.
“We started off a little rocky,” Robitaille said. “We ended up pretty good. We actually lost to Lee a couple of times. So we weren’t really nervous today, but we were anxious about what was going to happen.”
Their day started with three members of the team earning spots on the six-person all-league squad.
Robitaille, who finished with a season-best 214 average, was joined on the all-star team by teammates Mya Duhamel and Mitch McCann plus Pittsfield’s Ryan Russo, Wahconah’s Cody Doyle and Lee’s Aaron Armstrong.
Lee’s Bella Kotek was recognized with the league’s Peter Snyder Sportsmanship Award to round out the post-season honors before the post-season competition got underway.
Fourth-seeded Wahconah took care of No. 5 Mount Everett in the quarter-finals for the league, which had just five participants this year with traditional powers Drury and McCann Tech on the sidelines.
That sent Wahconah to the semis against Taconic, where it was tied, 2-2, after the first four Baker format games, where a team of five players alternate frames, with each bowler bowling two frames in the game.
In Game 5, Taconic had just two open frames – the second a nine on Robitaille’s last ball with the game already decided. Taconic duplicated that pattern down to the last ball in Game 6, clinching a berth in the finals with a commanding 203-130 win.
Lee, meanwhile, dropped the first game to Pittsfield but then rebounded with two straight wins.
After Russo rolled a pair of strikes in the 10th to give the Generals a 180-168 win in Game 4 to level the match, 2-2, Lee won the next two games by margins of 24 and 26 to reach the final.
In the pivotal fifth game, Kotek rolled strikes in the fourth and ninth frames, and Armstrong rolled a pair of strikes in the 10th.
In the sixth game, Pittsfield was hampered by three splits en route to the 164-138 loss.
Pittsfield, Taconic and Wahconah spent a lot more time on the road this winter than in seasons past after Ken’s Bowl closed permanently and was torn down last summer.
Taconic’s road to a title also went through South County on Friday as it squared off against regular-season nemesis Lee.
Taconic got off to a fast start, winning the first three games.
Game 1 was a struggle that came down to Robitaille’s two strikes in the 10th to secure a 163-160 win.
In Game 2, McCann, Duhamel, Robitaille and Tanner White rolled four straight strikes to give Taconic a commanding lead en route to a 221-151 win.
Game 3 was another comfortable win that ended up a little closer when Armstrong closed with a turkey in the 10th to make it 196-182.
But Lee rallied from the 3-0 deficit in impressive fashion.
The Wildcats started Game 5 with strikes from Jasmine Kearin, Makayla Schuerer, Emily Holian, Kotek and Armstrong to take a huge lead on the way to a 234-170 win with the highest score of the day.
“I told them, it’s one game at a time,” Lee coach Matthew Fillio said. “Two years ago, we were up 2-0, lost four in a row to Wahconah.
“With Baker, you never know what’s going to happen. A good bowler throws a split, an OK bowler gets a lucky strike, it changes things really fast. You can be up 30 or 40 and one or two open [frames] switches things really fast. Spares matter. You’ve got to keep making your spares.”
Lee overcame three open frames in Game 5 to win, 184-179, and stay alive in the match when Kotek picked up a spare in the ninth and Armstrong followed with a pair of strikes.
That sent the contest to the sixth game, where Taconic took an early lead with a turkey from McCann, Duhamel and Robitaille. McCann and Duhamel later got strikes in the ninth and 10th to put away the game and the match.
“They rallied back, but we stayed strong and listened to our coach,” Robitaille said. “Our talk was, ‘If we win one, we go home champions.’ And we can’t let that not happen for our sakes.”
Taconic 4, Wahconah 2
Game scores: Taconic, 173-164; Wahconah, 155-154; Taconic, 231-142; Wahconah, 173-156; Taconic, 190-154; Taconic, 203-130.
Lee 4, Pittsfield 2
Game scores: Pittsfield, 181-171; Lee 190-168; Lee, 185-162; Pittsfield, 180-168; Lee 197-173; Lee, 164-138.
Taconic 4, Lee 2
Game scores: Taconic, 163-160; Taconic, 221-151; Taconic, 196-182; Lee, 234-170; Lee, 184-179; Taconic, 191-159.
Berkshire County 2021-22 All-Star Team
Andrew Robitaille, Taconic; Aaron Armstrong, Lee; Cody Doyle, Wahconah; Ryan Russo, Pittsfield; Mitchell McCann, Taconic; Mya Duhamel, Taconic.
Pete Synder Sportsmanship Award
Bella Kotek, Lee.