By Warren Rappleyea
Ocean Township High School’s boys’ bowling team completed a strong season with a fourth-place finish in the NJSIAA Group II tournament Feb. 17 at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick.
In the final game and with a berth in the Tournament of Champions (TOC) on the line, the Spartans needed to down Montville Township High School by 35 pins to move on. Unfortunately, Ocean Township fell behind early and was never able to get back in the game. Matthew Redbord rolled a 682 series to qualify for the individual (TOC).
“We struggled, and it was one of those matches where we couldn’t seem to get a break,” Spartans coach Tom Siciliano said. “If we would have been able to bowl our average it would have been a different story. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”
Ocean Township qualified for the Group II tournament thanks to a second-place finish in Central Jersey, Group II behind Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen. In the regular season, Siciliano’s team went 44-10 to take second in the Shore Conference A Central Division behind Manasquan High School, which fell to East Brunswick High School in the TOC finale.
Along the way, the Spartans won the Long Branch Winter Wave tournament for the first time and took fifth place in the Central Jersey Winter Classic. Ocean Township also finished third in the Monmouth County tournament after edging Howell High School by 36 pins to finish first and earn the top seed in the preliminary round. The Spartans also set a team record for a single game with a total of 1,212 pins during the Winter Wave tournament.
“We were a little disappointed at the end, but our guys still put together a great year,” the coach said. “They battled Manasquan in the regular season, and they were right there at the end.”
Ocean Township topped Central A with a total series of 3,265, and Doug Rhoades and Redbord were second and third in the division, respectively, with series of 744 and 713 pins. Ocean Township’s 1,189-pin single game total was the highest in the division this season.
Redbord, who only began bowling three years ago, topped the Spartans with a 217-pin average. The junior also qualified for the Shore Conference individual tournament. Rhoades was not far behind with a 205-pin average. The junior lefty had a perfect game and was a dependable commodity in the leadoff slot for Siciliano.
The good news for the coach is that both Redbord and Rhoades return next year. Three other starters, however, will graduate in June. Senior Logan Smith finished the campaign with a 204-pin average, including a 233 in the Monmouth tournament, while Brian Davis ended up at 201 pins. Andrew Dusko averaged 194 pins on the year and narrowly missed qualifying for the Shore Conference individual tournament.
“It’s going to be tough to replace our seniors,” Siciliano said. “We have some guys we’re hoping will make the jump up from junior varsity, and we’ll see who else comes out next year. We’ve been pretty fortunate.”
One of those bowlers Siciliano will look to is freshman Jack Henry. Henry averaged 190 pins in limited action yet when called upon in the state sectional, he calmly rolled a 204-pin game.