The Blue Waves saved their best for last. But not even that was enough to propel the Riverhead bowling team into the postseason. READ
The Blue Waves saved their best for last. But not even that was enough to propel the Riverhead bowling team into the postseason. READ
BLUE WAVES 31, FIRST SETTLERS 2
When the bottom two high school boys bowling teams in Suffolk County League IV faced each other on Monday, they both saw it as an opportunity to walk away with points, something that hasn’t been too plentiful for either side this season.
It was Riverhead that garnered the lion’s share of them at Southold’s expense. Three Blue Waves rolled three-game series scores of 564 or higher in a 31-2 win.
BLUE WAVES 30, FIRST SETTLERS 3
In bowling, it’s not so much how a ball is delivered that counts as what the ball does once it is thrown down the alley. The Visek brothers need look no further than at each other to appreciate that point.
Riverhead High School senior D. J. Visek has an unusual two-handed throwing style that he adopted to get out of a slump. His younger brother, freshman Jon Visek, adheres to the more conventional one-handed approach.
The two dramatically different throwing styles have brought similar results. D. J. Visek said that once the ball leaves their hands, it has similar action. Quite often that action sends pins flying, producing spares and strikes.
That was the case Monday when both Riverhead bowlers excelled. Jon Visek capped a career-high 783 series with a career-high 290 game as the Blue Waves beat Southold, 30-3, in a Suffolk County League IV match at Wildwood Lanes in Riverhead. He delivered 11 straight strikes during the third game. In the first two games, he rolled a 248 and a 245.
D. J. Visek didn’t have a bad day, either, a 683 series from game scores of 203, 255 and 225. It was the fourth time this season that he hit 600 or higher.
The brothers combined for 50 of their team’s 79 strikes, 27 by Jon Visek.
Jon Visek started the day with a team-leading 206.04 average. D. J. Visek was third at 197.04, behind Forrest Vail’s 199.54.
The Viseks were the only Riverheaders to bowl in all three games. Nine Blue Waves bowled at least one game as Riverhead swept the three games, 922-747, 955-779, 1,028-717.
Among the other highlights for Riverhead were a 204 by Mark Stewart, who also employs a two-handed throwing style, and a 202 by Joe Gambino.
Riverhead, which entered the match in fifth place, has won 17 of 27 games and accrued 182 1/2 points.
Last-place Southold, which is 0-33 in games this season with only 22 1/2 points, was led Monday by Kaitlyn Kettenbeil’s 531 series, topped off by a 189 game. Jess Jerome added a 448 series, Emily Pressler had a 447, Mike Insogna a 427 and Jen Jaklevic a 290.
RAIDERS 17, BLUE WAVES 16
Huddled together in a corner of Wildwood Lanes, the members of the Riverhead boys bowling team let out their prematch chant: “Playoffs on three! One, two, three — playoffs!”
Those words say it all, as far as Riverhead’s mindset for what it wants to achieve this season is concerned. The Blue Waves are aiming to qualify for the Suffolk County tournament for the second time in three years. They will do just that if they finish the regular season among the top three teams in League III.
Riverhead was the third-place holder prior to Thursday’s matches, but the Blue Waves suffered something of a setback that day. They won two of the three games, but Patchogue-Medford took the total wood and a 17-16 victory in Riverhead’s home alley. Call it an opportunity missed.
The result left Riverhead with 157 1/2 points. The Raiders, who were sixth in the standings at the start of the day, have 116 1/2 points on the season.
“We’ve been getting better each match,” Riverhead coach Scott Hackal said. “We had a bump in the road today, but it’s been getting better.”
James Knoebel rolled a 226 and then a 253 in the first two games on the way to a 662 series for Patchogue-Medford, which outpinned the Blue Waves, 2,830-2,788. Knoebel, a senior, put away 20 strikes and eight spares.
Another Patchogue-Medford bowler, Scott Welsh, had a 508 series, with the aid of 11 strikes and a match-high 14 spares.
Riverhead was led by brothers Jonathan and D. J. Visek. Jonathan, an eighth-grader in his second varsity season, was consistent, with scores of 214, 199 and 203 for a 616 series. It was his third 600 series of the season. D. J., a junior with an unorthodox two-handed throwing style, shot a 237 in the final game for a 602 series.
Some nice individual games were thrown by other Blue Waves. Kyle Irwin rolled a 202. Nick Giannillo threw a 194. Austin Douglas had a 193. Forrest Vail put up a 192.
Riverhead’s scores in the three games looked like two peaks sandwiching a valley. The Blue Waves started the match well enough, winning the first game, 956-866. But then they dropped the second game, 1,057-804, before winning the third, 1,028-907.
“The second game killed us,” said Hackal.
While Riverhead outgunned Patchogue-Medford in strikes, 80-69, it was the Raiders who held the advantage in spares, 59-42, giving further evidence that spares are the name of the game in high school bowling.
Jonathan Visek (20 strikes, eight spares) is undoubtedly one of the county’s bright, up-and-coming bowlers. When he first joined the team last season as a seventh-grader, his older brother warned him that he would be dealing with pressure.
Pressure? That hasn’t seemed to be a problem for him.
Jonathan Visek bowled a 300 game in practice earlier this season. With Thursday’s performance, he brought his season average to 196. In 23 games, he has registered 10 game scores of 200 or more. His season-high single-game score is 232, and his season-high series is 653.
How good of a bowler is Jonathan Visek?
“I have to say he’s a great bowler,” D. J. Visek said. “He got a 300 in practice, a perfect game. … I realized he was something. He was a lot different from everyone else.”
D. J. Visek is enjoying an even more successful season than his brother. D.J. Visek was left with a 203 average after Thursday’s match, no small thanks to his relatively new throwing style.
A severe slump prompted to D. J. Visek to go to the two-handed approach, something he saw other bowlers do at a tournament last year.
“I was kind of in a slump for about, I’d say, eight months, where as opposed to getting 200 games and having a higher series, I went down,” he recalled. “I wasn’t getting games over 150 or 160. I think switching to double-handing gave me the look and the feel of the ball that I wanted to have, and it improved a lot.”
So, last summer he made the switch. He said it took him about a month to feel comfortable with it, and the results since then speak for themselves. This season he has recorded seven series scores of 600 or more, eight games of 200 or more. Among them are a 279 high game and a 676 high series.
“Over a summer I was able to completely switch to double-handing and come back with my highest average ever on the team,” D. J. Visek said. “Basically, it takes away using your thumb. It was easier for me to hook the ball. … I feel like I can put the ball where I want.”
Now the Blue Waves are hoping to finish the season where they want: in the county tournament.
The Riverhead boys bowling team closed out the 2011-12 season with a 30-2 loss against Patchogue-Medford Monday afternoon at Bowl Long Island in Patchogue.
After winning five of six matches from the end of December into January, the Blue Waves had their sights set on reaching the county tournament. But three straight losses to close out the season left the Blue Waves out of the top four in League III. Riverhead tallied 155 1/2 points while Longwood had 225 1/2 for fourth place to earn the last bid to the county tournament from League III.
The Blue Waves tallied their lowest total wood (2,504) of the season in Monday’s loss. The Raiders tallied 2,993.
Nine different bowlers got an opportunity to bowl a game for Riverhead. No one bowled a three-game series.
Junior Austin Douglas bowled a 378 over two games with a high game of 209.
Sophomore Donald Visek posted the high game for Riverhead with a 214. He tallied a 367 series over two games. Seventh-grader Forrest Vail finished with a 357 series over two games and junior Louis Ambrosio finished with a 342.
The Blue Waves will return their entire lineup next season except for one player, Chris Mazzucca. He led the team with a 194 average in 26 games.
Riverhead won its first match against Pat-Med back in December, 18-15. But after a high game of 918 in that match, the Raiders twice eclipsed 1,000 Monday.
BLUE WAVES 27, PATRIOTS 6
Scott Hackal sounded upbeat, and he had good reason to be. Not only because his Riverhead High School boys bowling team had just posted a feel-good win, but because this has turned into something of a feel-good season for the Blue Waves.
That may be a bit surprising, considering Riverhead lost all five of its starters from last season, each one of them taking a 200-plus average with them. Most of the current Blue Waves were on that team, but didn’t get much playing time.
Despite all of that, Riverhead is competing for a playoff spot.
“It’s a pleasant surprise,” Hackal said. “We’re learning, we’re getting better; that’s the key. This is not an easy game. It’s a frustrating game, but they’re working and getting better.”
The fruits of that labor are starting to be seen. On Monday, for example, three Riverheaders posted series scores over 550 in a 27-6 defeat of Ward Melville in a Suffolk County League III boys bowling match at Wildwood Lanes in Riverhead. A 229 in the opening game paved the way for a 580 series by Riverhead junior Louis Ambrosio. Chris Mazzucca, a senior, opened a 577 series with a 210 in the first game for Riverhead, which also received a 558 series from junior Austin Douglas.
“We’re moving right up and we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing every game,” said Ambrosio, who threw 16 strikes and made 10 spares. “We’re getting better and better.”
Riverhead played two seventh-graders, Forrest Vail and Jon Visek. Vail rolled a 215 in the third game and Visek had a 202 and a 165.
“I play eight people, and whoever I put in there seems to get the job done,” said Hackal.
Tom Slawski recorded a 535 series with a 200 high game for Ward Melville. Teammate Tom Bogia posted a 204 in the last game.
Riverhead swept the three games, 936-814, 910-899, 926-876.
Riverhead (129 1/2 points) and Ward Melville (75) started the day as the bottom two teams in the seven-team league.
What Hackal might have liked best about Monday’s match were the 69 spares his team converted, 15 more than Ward Melville.
“That’s huge,” Hackal said of the spares. “That’s better than anything else. I think we missed maybe two one-pin spares. Early in the year we were missing eight to 10 a game.”
Douglas, who like Ambrosio is a lefty, seems to like his new bowling ball. He capped his day with a 213 in the third game. Douglas said he has seen definite improvement in the team, which he said turned in its best performance of the season.
“From the beginning of the year now until now, it’s a completely different team,” he said. “… We had very little experience coming in to this year, and I feel like we skyrocketed.”
Riverhead hopes to extend its season in the playoffs, which may be possible. Of the team’s four remaining matches are two critical ones on the road — tomorrow versus Connetquot and Jan. 23 against Patchogue-Medford.
“We’re close to a playoff spot,” Hackal said. “We have to win a couple of matches on the road. Positive points in those away matches, and we’ll be fine.”
In retrospect, Riverhead bowling coach Scott Hackel wishes he could have found a way to get some of his younger bowlers into the lineup last year. But with a team loaded with seniors that was in pursuit of a league title, the opportunities didn’t so readily present themselves.
“The young guys didn’t get as much time as I would have liked, which would have helped them this year,” Hackel said.
The Blue Waves have fielded an entirely new lineup this year and for the bowlers, it’s been about getting acclimated to varsity matches. Riverhead dropped its first three matches, including Tuesday against Sachem East, 30.5-2.5 at Bowl Long Island.
Hackel said with a young team, it’s been a learning process to open the season.
“They’re all nervous and stuff like that,” he said. “It takes a little bit of time. They’ll be fine. As the year goes on we’ll be all right.”
It didn’t help Riverhead that two of its first three matches came against some of the top teams in the league. Longwood won the season-opener against Riverhead by tallying a total wood of 3,200, the second highest total of any team in the county so far this season.
The Blue Waves have averaged 884 per game. Last year they finished the season a shade under 1,000 per game.
Riverhead has gotten some strong performances, led by the trio of juniors Louis Ambrosio, Austin Douglas and senior Chris Mazzucca. Ambrosio, who bowled only one game last year, leads the team with a 198 average. He has the highest single game so far with a 246. His high series is 653, also best on the team.
“He’s been shooting real good,” Hackel said.
Mazzucca has a 187 average and Douglas is at 183. Mazzucca led the Blue Waves against Sachem Tuesday with a 568 series. His 200 in the second game was the single-game high for Riverhead.
The Blue Waves have mixed up the lineup at times to give multiple bowlers a chance to compete.
“We have four or five other guys that have been rotating in there,” Hackel said.
Looking ahead Hackel said the goal for the team is to make the county tournament and continue to improve each match.
“Our guys have the potential,” he said. “It’s just putting it all together at the same time.”
After a match at home Wednesday against William Floyd at Wildwood Lanes, the Blue Waves return to action Monday against Patchogue-Medford.
Because of an unfamiliar oil pattern, Wildwood Lanes had not been Jeremy Milito’s favorite bowling alley. But the Sachem East High School senior may be feeling more kindly to the Riverhead house after what happened on Monday night.
Milito rolled his second career 300 game, and the Flaming Arrows needed it, too.
With the help of Milito’s perfect game, Sachem East won the third game by 22 points, 1,073-1,051, capping a 21-12 victory over the Riverhead Blue Waves and taking first place in Suffolk County League III. The matchup of the league’s top two teams saw them split the first two games on Monday, with Riverhead winning the first game, 1,047-913, and Sachem East taking the second game, 1,081-909.
Defending county and league champion Sachem East raised its point total to 184, seven more than Riverhead. Furthermore, the Flaming Arrows hold the advantage of a match in hand.
Milito, Sachem East’s anchorman who entered the match with a 228.3 average, also threw a 207 and a 237 for a 744 series, his fourth 700-plus series of the season. He finished with 25 strikes and six spares.
Last season Milito bowled a 300 in Sachem East’s home alley, Bowl Long Island in Patchogue. He might have even surprised himself by duplicating the feat at the Riverhead venue, which hasn’t been kind to him or the Flaming Arrows over the years.
“I’ve struggled here in the past,” Milito said. “I’ve never bowled good here before, but I just came in with a good mind-set and took a game plan. It’s really rough because the lanes are really touchy, so you have to be pretty good, accurate.”
This is the second 300 this season for Sachem East. Matt Hecker, a junior, threw one a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s very special,” Sachem East Coach Mike Stanek said of Milito’s big game. “He bowls all the time. He’s in the tournaments, he travels. He’s lefty. That helps. He’s a great kid. His attitude is superior. He’s very confident and that’s what it takes.”
Riverhead senior Jon Horton is familiar with Milito’s work, having seen him bowl on numerous occasions. “He hits his mark every time, which is why he bowls 300s,” Horton said. “He makes it look so much more simpler than it really is.”
With “Xs” dotting the monitor next to his name, Milito headed into the 10th and final frame with more than a tight match on the line (Riverhead might have won had Milito not thrown a strike on his first ball in the 10th frame).
“It’s really nerve-racking. It’s kind of scary,” he said. “You really want to be concentrated, but you don’t really want to be too tense because then you’ll miss your shots. You want to be as relaxed as possible.”
A hush fell over the crowd of spectators and bowlers as Milito let go of his final ball of the day.
“I was just praying that they would all go down,” he said. “One went down late.”
After all 10 pins fell, Milito received high-fives and hugs from happy teammates who congratulated him.
“That guy there is topnotch,” Riverhead Coach Scott Hackal said. “He threw one ball that was marginally high, maybe. The rest were all great shots.”
Stanek, who said it was his team’s first win at Wildwood Lanes in six or seven years, remarked: “That was huge. We needed every bit of it.”
Sachem East also received a boost from Steve Sabella. Sabella scored a 688 series with games of 212, 244 and 232. He had 22 strikes and 10 spares.
Riverhead, which had beaten Sachem East last month at Bowl Long Island, was led by Adam Vail, who recorded 22 strikes and eight spares. Vail’s opening and ending games of 237 and 247 helped him to a 675 series. Anthony Trent added a 642 series with a 241 high game. With the help of 17 strikes and 15 spares, Elliot Jones finished with a 621 series for the Blue Waves. Travis Walker had a 565 series and Horton a 504.
“It was a big match,” said Walker, who scored a 224 in the third game. “We lost a pretty close game. A guy bowls a 300 with a spare. You can’t do much about that.”
Milito said this 300 was more gratifying than the first one he had rolled because he felt he did more to earn it. Recollecting his final shot of the night, he said: “There was so much satisfaction in that shot, too. It was all worth it.”