Lee Bowlers Win State Championship

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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CHICOPEE, Mass. – Needing a strike to help secure her school’s first state championship on Saturday afternoon, Lee senior Emily Holian did like she usually does.
She delivered.
Holian’s strike to open the 10th frame of the Wildcats’ second game against Worcester Tech all but assured Lee a team title at Bowlero Chicopee.
“Going to the 10th, I was just like, ‘I’m going to do it,’ “ Holian said. “I’ve wanted this for so long. Six years I’ve waited. And I was like, ‘Throw the ball, and whatever happens happens.’
“And I guess it was a really good outcome, and I’m super happy for what happened today.”
It was a good day all the way around for the Berkshire County High School Bowling League, which also saw Taconic take first place in the state tournament’s B Division.
Thunder senior Mitch McCann was named the MVP of the B flight after leading his team to 2-0 wins in the semi-finals and finals over a pair of teams from St. John’s of Shrewsbury.
Bella Kotek was the MVP of the A Division after rolling strikes on three of her four balls in the title match.
Lee gave the county its second straight state championship, following up on Pittsfield High’s crown from a year ago, a win that ended Woo Tech’s three-year run as state champ.
The Generals also competed in the A Division on Saturday, as did McCann Tech, which finished qualifying in fifth place, just 33 pins out of a spot in the state semi-finals.
Two weeks ago, the Hornets beat Lee for the county title in North Adams. But Wildcats coach Matthew Fillio thought his team was in a good position going to states.
“We knew coming here that the lanes would be good for the way our team throws,” Fillio said. “The oil lasts a longer here, so we thought they’d be able to stay with their shot a lot longer here and not have to change anything or move a lot.
“The way these guys throw, we had high hopes – as long as they hit their mark.”
Holian, Kotek, Devyn Fillio, Nate Terry and Maddie Kotek were clearly the day’s best team on Saturday.
Lee went into the four-team, match-play semi-finals as the top seed after five qualifying games: two standard games (where each player on the team rolls all 10 frames) and three Baker format games (where five players alternate frames).
The Wildcats took the first game of its semi-final against Auburn, 144-129, with just one strike – from Terry in the seventh frame.
Both teams rolled better in Game 2 of the best-of-three match. And Auburn got a leg up with a turkey in frames four, five and six, going on to a 213-190 win.
The deciding third game was even through four frames, but Holian, Maddie Kotek and Terry combined for a turkey in the fifth, sixth and seventh frames to give Lee a lead. And Bella Kotek all but clinched it with a strike in the ninth as the Wildcats prevailed, 193-159.
Woo Tech jumped on top early in Game 1 of the final match with a double in the first two frames.
But the Eagles left pins standing in frames four through eight, allowing Lee to build a commanding lead with a combination of spares and strikes. After a nine in the first frame, Lee did not have another open frame until Holian’s third ball in the 10th.
Fillio and Kotek each rolled strikes in the eighth and ninth, and Holian started her 10th with a pair of strikes to close out a 214-146 win – only the sixth 200 game out of 40 Baker games rolled in the A Division on Saturday.
In the second game of the best-of-three against Woo Tech, Lee never trailed after Terry, Fillio and Bella Kotek went strike, spare, strike in the second, third and fourth frames.
The Eagles hung close, though, and in the seventh and eighth, their bowlers matched Terry and Fillio with strikes to keep things interesting.
After both teams left a pin standing in the ninth, Lee had a 149-140 lead going to the 10th frame. Worcester Tech’s bowler went first and rolled a strike, keeping the pressure on Holian, who rolled her third strike of the championship match. After Woo Tech’s eight on its next ball, Holian went on to make a spare for the 169-160 win.
Although there were other co-ed teams at the championship, including Worcester Tech, which had one girl on the squad, Lee was notable as the only team with mostly female bowlers – a fact not lost on its seniors.
“It’s really important because there’s not a lot of female bowlers out there representing in the high school community,” Bella Kotek said. “We wanted all the younger bowlers who want to bowl … just to show them that they can do it and they should be proud.”
The Wildcats had plenty to be proud of on Saturday.
“Six years of high school bowling, it goes by in the blink of an eye,” Holian said. “But, really, it’s all worth it in the end. I couldn’t ask for a better team and a better coach. They’re all family to me, like I said before, and I’m grateful.”
A Division Team Scores
1. Lee, 2,345 pins; 2. Pope Francis, 2,202; 3. Worcester Tech, 2,160; 4. Auburn, 2,111; 5. McCann Tech, 2,078; 6. Chicopee Comp, 1,995; 7. Pittsfield, 1,994; 8. St. John’s, 1,936.
Lee 144, Auburn 129; Auburn 213, Lee 190; Lee 193, Auburn 159.
Pope Francis 169, Worcester Tech 154; Worcester Tech 189, Pope Francis 129; Worcester Tech 212, Pope Francis 126.
Lee 214, Worcester Tech 146; Lee 169, Worcester Tech 160.
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