Niagara-Wheatfield bowling on track with Festival of Lights title
The Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons mowed down a total of 6,135 pins to take first place in the Festival of Lights Tournament that was held on Dec.27.
Led by Colton Kitcho, who was named to the all-tournament team, and Nate Maloney, who recorded the high game with a 298, the Falcons won the 27-team event that also included squads from ECIC and MMAA.
“I wouldn’t call it a statement win,” said Boutet, the coach of the Niagara Frontier power. “It’s nice for us, but it’s not really part of our ultimate goal. It’s fun to be able to go out there and judge yourself against the best in Western New York.”
Boutet sees the performance as a step in getting back to the state tournament, which has been the goal since the start of the year.
“I think we’re going in the right direction,” he said. “If we would have gone out there and laid an egg, there would have been a lot of questions to be answered. The way we bowled, we’re right on schedule.”
Boutet said that his team has remained focus on seeing its goal through after falling short last year.
Grand Island finished second with 5,920 total pins, while St. Joe’s, Orchard Park, Timon-St. Jude and Tonawanda rounded out the top six.
North Tonawanda came in 10th with 5,717. Other NFL finishes saw Niagara Falls (5,527) come in 14th, Lockport’s B team (5,375) was 18th, Kenmore East (5,281), 21st, Ken-West (4,937), 24th, and Lockport A, 26th, with 4,565.
Kitcho, who bowled a 684 in the morning session then 678 in the afternoon, finished with the second highest pin count (1,362) and was the only NFL bowler to make all-tournament.
Lockport’s Matt Topolski did have high series with a stunning 735 and Wheatfield’s Maloney was two pins shy of a perfect game.
Boutet said that the key to victory was bringing seven bowlers, all of whom had substantial playing time.
He added that this was another example of success being the by-product of year-round commitment from his bowlers and understanding the season starts before the first day of tryouts.
In girls action, the Falcons gave it a solid run, but in the end defending state champions Niagara Falls proved they are still the elite of Wester New York.
The Wolverines knocked down a total of 5,556 pins to edge out Maryvale (5,547) and Niagara-Wheatfield (5,541).
North Tonawanda (5,429) and Lockport (5,285) completed the top five. Ken-West and Ken-East, who came into the tournaments winless in the NFL, both made very respectable showings as the Blue Devils came in 11th and Bulldogs were 13th in the field of 19.
In fact, Ken-West’s Ashley Fries continued her strong season with the top series of 638 and Ken-East’s DeDee Rudroff made the all-tournament team with a count of 1,183 pins.
NT’s Cassidy Powers made all-tournament when she delivered a 1,197. Lockport’s Bridget Masiello also earned all-tournament and Wheatfield’s Rachel Szeliga had the high game with 255.