Egg Harbor Township senior Matthew Stephens had an impressive debut in the state high school individual bowling tournament Wednesday.
The 17-year-old finished second behind Steinert’s Ryan Carlisi at Cavalier Lanes in North Brunswick.
After both bowlers began the championship match with two strikes and two spares, Carlisi took control with six consecutive strikes to win 244-213.
“I’m nothing but pleased with a second-place finish,” Stephens said. “I’ll take that any day.”
EHT coach Franklin Williams was extremely impressed with Stephens’ debut in the state tournament. The top 18 finishers from last weekend’s sectional tournament advanced to the championship. Stephens finished third at sectionals with a three-game score of 732.
“He’s never been at states,” said EHT coach Franklin Williams. “I’m overly impressed. Today, he showed a lot of character. The pins didn’t fall for him in the championship game, but second place is an awesome accomplishment for him.”
Stephens’ debut was even more impressive because after two rounds of qualifying Wednesday he bowled a six-game score of 1,606 (256, 279, 236, 267, 278, 290), which put him in the No. 1 spot for the stepladder part of the tournament.
“The first six games were probably the best six games I’ve bowled since last year,” Stephens said. “I was kind of an underdog.”
By qualifying in that No. 1 spot, Stephens advanced straight to the championship match and had to wait nearly an hour while the four other bowlers worked their way up the stepladder. Carlisi who was third in the stepladder, advanced to the final by defeating James Stoveken of Woodbridge 237-217.
“He bowled six games right in a row and then had to wait,” Franklin said of Stephens. “Just the mindset to wait and see who you have to bowl. Just mentally, it’s tough.”
Nevertheless, Stephens was pleased with his performance. It wasn’t the first time he had success at a high school bowling event. He has won the South Jersey Singles Classic in December the past three years. He said he hopes to continue to bowl in college, but he’s not sure where he wants to go.
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5-Evan Weinberg, Dayton def. Steve Nicholsen, Jackson Memorial, 190-166
3-Ryan Carlisi, Steinert, def. 5-Weinberg, Dayton, 235-183
3-Carlisi, Steinert, def. 2-James Stoveken, Woodbridge, 237-217
3-Carlisi, Steinert, def. 1-Matthew Stephens, Egg Harbor, 244-213
SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND: (top five advance)
1-Stephens, Egg Harbor, 256-279-236-267-278-290-1,606
2-Stoveken, Woodbridge, 259-224-278-278-257-277-1,573
3-Carlisi, Steinert, 207-256-247-249-279-259-1,497
4-Nicholsen, Jackson Memorial, 226-267-235-248-290-214-1,480
5-Weinberg, Dayton, 193-279-266-223-235-259-1,455
FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND: (top 18 advance)
1-David Grant, Fort Lee, 246-278-256-780
2-Jared Duncan, Indian Hills, 245-290-238-773
3-Stephens, Egg Harbor, 256-279-236-771
4-Matthew Burzynski, Dickinson, 258-279-224-761
5-Stoveken, Woodbridge, 259-224-278-1,573-761
6-Weinber, Dayton, 193-279-266-738
7-Anthony Mathis, Cherry Hill East, 235-259-240-734
8-Nicholsen, Jackson Memorial, 226-267-235-728
9-Joseph Ocello, St. Rose, 279-217-220-716
10-Rob Murray, Morris Knolls, 247-236-243-716
11-Carlisi, Steinert, 207-256-247-710
12-Cameron LaPlant, J.P. Stevens, 210-223-274-707
13-Kyle Schellberg, Dumont, 257-203-244-704
14-Jordan Shackleford, Westampton Tech, 251-233-215-699
15-Justin Pavlik, Ridge, 233-234-228-695
16-Rashee Cole, Bayonne, 236-269-183-688
17-Nick Greco, Fair Lawn, 247-206-234-687
18-Aaron Heimall, Roselle Park, 236-239-11-686