Though the Vernon Verona Sherrill boys bowling team walked out of Utica's Pin-O-Rama on Sunday with the Section III Class B championship in its possession, it nearly had a lot more.
The Red Devils led the team contest through the morning session, but a new format caused VVS some trouble -- enough for Fulton to overtake them and, in the end, hang on for first place.
All told, VVS had a pinfall of 5,978, beaten only by Fulton's 6,031 as the Red Raiders advanced to the state tournament, to take place March 6-7 at Mardi Bob Lanes in Poughkeepsie.
Despite the disappointment of the team defeat, Tristan Tormey and Josh Menning will represent VVS as part of the Section III All-Stars who will face top individuals from other sections in Poughkeepsie.
Tormey bowled the best game of the entire sectional meet, a 256, as he and Menning will join Canastota's Steve Piatkowski on the All-star squad. Bobby Moro (Henninger), Connor Harrington (CBA) and Jamie Cliff (Oswego) round out the team.
The sectional tournament had two distinct parts. In the morning session, a traditional format of five competitors bowling complete individual games worked in the Red Devils' favor.
Led by Tormey, who had a 703 series, and Menning, VVS accumulated 3,100 pins, giving them an 84-pin over New Hartford, with Fulton in third place. Ken Chang, Collin Laguzza and Zane Hasty rounded out the squad.
Then the format changed -- to "Baker", where in each game five individuals roll only two consecutive frames. In such a format, the best bowlers are saved for the end, where up to four strikes can be earned.
It took some time for VVS to adjust to Baker -- not to mention drier lanes and tougher scoring conditions. Within one game (a 150), the Red Devils had lost its lead to New Hartford.
Gradually, the Red Devils regrouped, faring as well as 235 in the 11th game as Chang, going fourth in the five-man rotation, earned 12 straight strikes at one point. Still, Both VVS and New Hartford could not prevent Fulton's late charge.
Piatkowski, with his 232.33 average, led Canastota to a fourth-place finish in Class C/D at 5,276, as Chittenango took fifth place in Class B (5,602), far off the winning VVS effort.