ROCKAWAY – It was eerily quiet at Rockaway Lanes as Sam Engel stepped up to the approach. Morris Hills was trying to earn the Morris County Tournament bowling title, and Engel felt the pressure.
With just the 10 pin between him and a spare on the final frame of the first game of the finals, Engel stepped back and took a breath. Then he made the spare.
In the second game, Engel doubled in the 10th frame – two strikes – to give the Scarlet Knights the title on Thursday afternoon.
They defeated Montville 202-193 and 180-173 in the final round of the 11th annual MCT, conducted in the Baker format where every bowler rolled two frames.
It is the Scarlet Knights’ first MCT title since 2011.
The victory was even more improbable because the Mustangs had broken the MCT record for team pins – twice – just a few hours earlier. Montville had only dropped a single game this season, to Morris Tech.
Morris Hills captain Alex Furman rattled off all those stats as his teammates celebrated nearby.
“We wanted to take out Montville,” said Furman, a Scarlet Knights senior. “I knew I couldn’t let the rest of the team down. But I missed in the ninth (frame of the second game) to give them an opening. Same was clutch. He was able to take it home.”
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Morris Hills coach Stefana Niemo lets her bowlers choose the lineup, even for the MCT. Engel’s teammates assigned him the last slot, which he called “the anchor,” bowling both fifth and last.
“Since he was a freshman, he bowled seven days a week,” Niemo said of Engel, who brought his average up to 174. “Who else is going to sit in the 10th frame like that?”
Montville senior Ryan Sylvester won the individual high game with a 297. The Mustangs also roared through the opening round with a MCT record-breaking 1,155 pins, only to improve to 1,162 in the second game. They totaled 3,312 – a MCT series record – to earn the No. 1 seed.
Montville defeated No. 4 Morris Tech to reach the final. Morris Hills, the No. 3 seed, upset second seeded Jefferson.
“As a team, we didn’t make the spares that we needed and got unlucky with our pin carry,” Sylvester said. “As it falls, we’re going to lose because we’re not making spares. I’m happy with my individual performance, and I’m happy with how the team did in the team series. We kind of fell apart in the Baker half.”
Chatham senior Jack Konrad won the high series (791) and was second to Sylvester for high game. But despite bowling 18 straight strikes, he was still disappointed after not reaching 800.
Konrad finished second in both categories in 2020, when Chatham lost to Montville in the final.
“This is what I’ve been going for. I wanted to get first,” said Konrad, who had bowled his third sanctioned 300 – and 10th all time – on Tuesday. “I thought I threw good shots. I got a little nervous, and threw it a little higher than I wanted. It was that close.”
girls got game
Morris Tech’s trio of Amanda Granata, Amelia Lemanowicz and Aubrey Schwager swept the team series awards on Thursday. Granata, a Devils junior, rolled a 268 to take the individual girls game plaque – and break the MCT record by a single pin.
Granata has been part of a bowling league since she was 3, when she “picked up a ball and threw it down a lane.” She began competing at age 12, winning her first local tournament and qualifying for Junior Gold nationals. She has advanced every year since then, including 2022.
“Seeing all the bowlers who were really good in my own division, I wanted to be like them,” Granata, a Florham Park resident studying animal science, said of her national experience, before turning to her teammates.
“It’s great to have all these people to work with. It’s great to bowl with them, and see the improvement since freshman year, even the boys. Our scores are running right up against the boys’, and we have to put up huge scores to run with them. We’re bowling on the same shot, and we have an opportunity to do just as well as them.”
Morris Hills 202, Montville 193
Morris Hills 180, Montville 193
Montville 300, Morris Tech 137
Morris Tech 207, Montville 188
Montville 201, Morris Tech 156
Jefferson 277, Morris Hills 173
Morris Hills 185, Jefferson 169
Morris Hills 190, Jefferson 145
Montville 1155-1162*-995-3312*; Morris Hills 1038-1010-902-2950; Jefferson 850-947-960-2757; Morris Tech 891-831-1008-2730; Morris Knolls 1004-830-895-2729; Delbarton 877-918-908-2703; Chatham 788-841-837-2477; Kinnelon 803-774-884-2421; Butler 682-707-694-2083; Morristown 695-693-694-2082; Dover 685-647-674-2006
Boys high game: Ryan Sylvester (Montville) 297; Jack Konrad (Chatham) 289; Scott Sanczyk (Kinnelon) 279
Boys high series: Jack Konrad (Chatham) 223-279-289-791; Ryan Sylvester (Montville) 256-297-224-777; Eli Kaufman (Montville) 233-242-216-691
girls high game: Amanda Granata (Morris Tech) 268; Sammy Glunk (Chatham) 235; Amelia Lemanowicz (Morris Tech) 233
Girls high series: Amanda Granata (Morris Tech) 152-205-268-625; Amelia Lemanowicz (Morris Tech) 205-146-233-584; Aubrey
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