By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — After getting off to a rocky start in Sunday’s Massachusetts individuals championship match, Taconic High junior bowler Lynsey Aldam could have gone to her happy place.
Instead, she went to a place of serious disappointment. And it worked.
“I was kind of thinking about how last year, I was really upset and disappointed that I lost,” Aldam said after rolling a 193-185 win to claim the state championship. “So, I reevaluated the situation, I focused myself, and I was like, ‘I want this.’ I’m a junior, I’ve come really far this year, I’ve got new equipment, and I want this. That kind of got me focused.”
Aldam recovered from an open frame to start Sunday’s finale against Christina Jandrow of Worcester’s South High.
The turning point came late when Aldam earned her first strike of the match in the sixth frame and followed it up with three more in a row while Jandrow left the door open with a nine in the ninth frame.
In her 10th, Jandrow picked up a one-pin spare and then rolled an eight to finish at 185.
Aldam, who at one point in the match trailed by more than 20 pins, thought she needed to strike out to finish the comeback.
She rolled a strike on her first ball, but then left the eight pin standing. Afterward, she said she had no idea that nine was enough.
“I didn’t know,” Aldam said. “I was very shocked. I’m sure everyone saw my face. I was amazed. I didn’t think I had it in me.”
But her fans had done the math and knew that her second ball of the 10th was enough to secure the state title. Aldam completed the spare, anyway, with the last ball of the two-day championships at Greylock Bowl & Golf.
Sunday was just for the individual competition, where Aldam and Assabet’s Andrew Hall were crowned the queen and king pins of Massachusetts high school bowling.
On Saturday, McCann Tech defeated Assabet, two games to none, to win the team state championship and end a five-year run for crosstown rival Drury.
Wahconah won the B Division state title, coming back to beat Sabis in three games, 114-154, 181-114, 168-149 in the title match.
McCann’s Kalley Vanuni was named the tournament’s MVP after coming up big in the Hornets’ Baker format matches.
After two full-team games and three Baker games, Drury was in first place with 2,401 total pins. McCann Tech, Pittsfield and Assabet earned berths in the four-team playoffs to decide the team title.
In the semis, fourth-seeded Assabet upended Drury by scores of 157-148 and 252-160 to reach the final. On the other side of the bracket, second-seeded McCann held off Pittsfield by scores of 223-206 and 185-130.
In the championship match of the Division A bracket, McCann beat Assabet, 223-129 and 202-159 to win the title.
McCann sophomore Brandon Vallone, who placed fourth in Sunday’s individuals, said that winning the state title was a nice way to bounce back from the disappointment of losing to Drury in the Berkshire County final the week before.
“Even though we lost, I built up a lot of confidence there, and I knew there was no way we were going to lose states,” Vallone said. “We just had to.”
McCann’s team went to the championship tournaments with a lot of motivation this month, Vallone said.
“With everything that’s happened this year …. a lot of people close to our team passed away,” he said. “We had four people we all knew very well pass away during the season. We did it for them. It’s a great feeling.”
On Sunday, Vallone was in third place in the individual competition after four games. In his first match of the four-man playoff, he ran into a buzz saw against Hall, who opened with five strikes on the way to a 279-176 victory. Hall went on to win the final by a score of 204-190.
Aldam was the top-seeded bowler going into the single-elimination playoff, and that meant she had to sit out while No. 4 played No. 3 and the survivor played the No. 2 seed to determine who made it to the final.
The layoff was stressful for Aldam, who equated it to waiting around for the grades on a test.
“Last year, I came in third. I let the pressure get to me,” she said. “So I worked on breathing techniques and things like that and counting my breaths. That definitely helps a lot to calm the nerves because I was really, really nervous. I was shaking my boots.
“I just try not to look at the other bowlers because that affects me. I closed my eyes. I was talking to my mom. If I watch them, it gets in my head.”
Team scores (top four make playoffs)
A Division: 1. Drury, 2,401 pins; 2. McCann Tech, 2,271; 3. Pittsfield, 2,223; 4. Assabet, 2,126; 5. Bay Path, 2,012; 6. Mount Greylock, 1,986; 7. Monument Mountain, 1,971; 8. Central, 1,952; 9. Worcester Tech, 1,896.
Semifinals: Assabet over Drury, 157-148 and 252-160; McCann Tech over Pittsfield, 223-206 and 185-130.
Championship: McCann Tech over Assabet, 223-129 and 202-159.
B Division: 1. Wahconah, 2,091 pins; 2. Taconic, 2,011; 3. Sabis, 1,891; 4. Bay Path B1, 1,810; 5. Drury 2, 1,652; 6. Worcester Tech 2, 1,610; 7. Leicester, 1,595; 8. Bay Path 2, 1,565; 9. McCann B2, 1,425; 10. Sabis 2, 1,320.