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Falcons Struggle Early at the Lanes

December 7, 2015

by Justin Porreca

Shot inconsistency and a slew of missed spares dictated the Albany High Falcons opening week at the lanes, falling to Columbia High School and Colonie High School in their Suburban Council debut.

Albany High was dealt a bad hand in their opening week in the Suburban Council traveling to East Greenbush to bowl against the 2014-2015 Suburban Council champion, Columbia High Blue Devils and then coming back home to the Playdium Bowling Center to do battle with yearly powerhouse, the Colonie High Raiders.

The change in conferences has also brought a change in the scoring system.

The old scoring system Albany High was accustomed to in the Big 10 Conference was that teams earned points through game-by-game six-man totals. The team with the highest six-man total after each game earned one point. Once all three games were complete, the bowler’s triples were tallied and the team with the overall highest six-man, three-game triple earned a point and the team with the bowler with the highest triple earned a point. In the end a team could finish the day with a total of five points, however in the Suburban Council it’s a bit different.

The Suburban Council point system is based off a pro-style scoring system, meaning bowlers go head-to-head against each other to earn points for their team. It’s based off of 32-total points and a team can earn a total of eight points per game. Six points are awarded for winning head-to-head matchups and the other two points are awarded for head-to-head three-man triples. The Falcon bowlers are still adjusting to the new scoring system and most importantly how crucial it is to be on their A-game every game.

The Falcons kicked their season off Tuesday at the East Greenbush Bowling Center against the defending Suburban Council champion Blue Devils and it was a rough outing, especially in the spares department.

Sophomore, Jahlil Young, picked up where he left off last season with a 226 game in the first game, but the rest of his team struggled on the synthetic lanes.

Albany High had eight missed spares, seven of them being single-pin spares. The failed spare conversion proved to be crushing.

The Falcons lost 698-560 and 602-587 and the Blue Devils led 7-1 in the point category after game one.

Game two proved to be special for Columbia High and debilitating for Albany High.

The Blue Devils anchor, Jon Smith, rolled a 300 game against the Falcons and helped push his boys to a decisive game two win.

“I was very nervous of course. Just like any other bowler that bowled a 300, but this one felt very special to me because my family wasn’t here for the first one that I bowled and now that they’ve had the opportunity to watch me bowl—it’s just a great feeling,” Smith said.

The Falcons picked it up a little with the scores with five of their starting six bowlers shooting 200-plus, but they continued to shoot themselves in the foot with the spare conversions.

The Falcons missed seven spares and it proved to be crucial losing 606-637 and 648-753 and were now down 13-3. The missed spares continued to plague the Falcons in the third game.

Albany-Bowling-1-300x200

Albany High’s two-handed phenom, Jahlil Young, warms up with practice shots ahead of the Falcons match against the Colonie High Raiders/Justin Porreca Albany High’s two-handed phenom, Jahlil Young, warms up with practice shots ahead of the Falcons match against the Colonie High Raiders/Justin Porreca

The Falcons fell 595-653 and 556-669 and missed nine spares along the way.

The Columbia Blue Devils crushed the Falcons 25-7 and shot 4,021 to Albany High’s 3,552.

Smith had the high on the day with a 757 triple to go along with his 300 game. Jared Bowman pitched in with a 235 game and a 690 triple for the Blue Devils. For the Falcons, Young shot a 265 game and rolled a 727 triple.

“I’m a little bit older, so when I grew up you had to make spares and now you don’t have to make spares to be a good bowler, because you can throw a ton of strikes, but I’ve worked really hard with my students to get them to make their spares,” said coach Bill Neumann, who was pleased with his boys dominant performance.

As for the Falcons, the spare making woes carried over into their home matchup Wednesday against the Colonie High Raiders.

The Falcons failed to convert easy spare opportunities and lacked shot consistency, especially Young, who struggled mightily.

The Falcons missed nine spares in the first game and fell to the Raiders 609-557 and 649-556. Seth Betz had the game one high with a 226 and freshman, Phillip Stone, shot a 224. For the Raiders, Zach Valentina rolled a 225 and Kenny Livengood pitched in a 223 pushing their team to 6-2 point lead.

Both teams’ fell off a bit in game two missing a combined 13 spares and several of the scores dipped below 200.

Even with Colonie’s struggles, Albany High failed to capitalize fully. The Falcons split losing 610-526 and winning 618-611, thanks in part to a 222 game by their senior captain, Queone Sylvester. They also split the points 4-4. Livengood rolled a 234 for the Raiders in game two.

Game three proved to be disastrous for Albany High missing a season-high 12 spares and failing to roll a consistent strike shot. The lone bright-spot came from Stone who rolled a 203 and captured the lone game three point for the Falcons. Albany high fell to Colonie 439-652 and 540-631 in game three. Valentina pitched in with a 227 game to push the Raiders past the Falcons.

In their first time bowling at the Playdium Bowling Center as a team, the Colonie Raiders posted a 3,762 three-game, six-man total and captured 24 points in the process. Albany High rolled a 3,236 and picked up eight points.

Livengood was the high man for the Raiders shooting a 671 triple with a 234 high game and Valentina pitched in with a 652 triple.

“I didn’t even expect to have that. From what I heard I thought we were coming in here and we were going to leave a lot of tens and a lot of sevens and we didn’t get tapped,” Livengood said. “Our team bowled well, we all hit 600, but one and it was a good day.”

The freshman, Stone, was the high man for the Falcons rolling a 616 triple and Syvlester pitched in shooting a 604.

Young, the team’s number one bowler, was a shell of himself Wednesday, going from a 727 Tuesday to rolling a 515. He struggled mightily with shot selection, ball control and spare conversions. Young understood his issues after the match and looks to make the necessary adjustments ahead of this team’s next match.

“Probably move right, move a little bit, change balls, try to see what happens and just react to it,” he said.

The Falcons have a lot to work on in practice Monday; spare-making and first ball consistency will be areas of focus ahead of those matches.

“I think getting back here and just getting to boys to stay a little more focused and concentrate,” said coach Nancy Madsen. “They’re not missing by much, they’re just doing a couple little things wrong and not making the adjustments they need to make right now.”

Albany High 0-2, 15-49 will bowl back-to-back matches once again, traveling to Towne Bowling Academy for a showdown against Christian Brothers Academy on Tuesday. The Falcons come home Wednesday for a matchup against Ballston Spa.

“We had a seventh grader, eighth grader and ninth grader starting against two of the toughest teams in the state, not only in our section, so it wasn’t bad, we just need to get a little more experience and I think there are a lot of positives, we look forward to the rest of the season,” Madsen said.

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