The Blue Waves saved their best for last. But not even that was enough to propel the Riverhead bowling team into the postseason.
In the Blue Waves’ final match of the season Tuesday, the Blue Waves totaled three straight games of more than 1,000 for the first time this season. It added up to a 19-14 victory over William Floyd.
“We had to win by seven and we won by five,” said Riverhead coach Scott Hackal. “We missed a spot by a point and a half.”
The top three teams in each league advance to the playoffs and the Blue Waves finished the season fourth, just behind William Floyd. William Floyd totaled 236 points to Riverhead’s 234. Longwood won the League IV title with 307 points.
It was a frustrating end for the Blue Waves, who rose to the occasion on their final match on the road at Shirley Lanes.
The Blue Waves bowled their most consistent match of the year and the team’s total wood of 3,036 was the second highest of the year. On Jan. 5, in a match against league champion Longwood, the Blue Waves totaled 3,053.
“It came down to the last game,” Hackal said. “We had to win the game and would could have lost two match points and we lost three. Or if we won high game that would have made up those two points. But we missed that by about 16 pins. It’s frustrating.”
The Blue Waves featured a consistent lineup throughout the year, anchored at the top by juniors Jonathan Visek and Forrest Vail.
Visek led the team in average at 207 followed closely by Vail at 199. Sophomore Joseph Gambino averaged 192.
Mark Stewart, the only senior on the team, posted the fourth best average at 187.
Visek, Vail and Stewart all bowled 36 games on the year while Gambino missed one at 35. The challenge for the Blue Waves was finding that consistent fifth bowler to round out the lineup. The Blue Waves rotated three bowlers over the season in the final spot.
Visek posted the top individual game for the Blue Waves on the season when he bowled a 267 on Jan. 5 against Longwood. His best three-game series came in the final match of the year Tuesday when he bowled a 701. It was a huge improvement from a day earlier when he bowled a 576 series against Rocky Point.
A big challenge for the Blue Waves throughout the season was putting up solid scores on the road. Hackal said the team often struggled in an opposing bowling alley compared to home matches at Wildwood Lanes.
“A lot of other teams in leagues have most of the teams in their own house,” he said. “There’s one league where probably 80 percent of the teams bowl in the one house, so all you do is bowl on a different pair of lanes. That’s such an advantage.”
The Blue Waves competed at Coram Country Bowl, Port Jeff Bowl and Shirely Lanes this year in addition to Wildwood.
“It was a good year,” Hackal said. “A lot of the kids got better.”