NORTH BRUNSWICK — Winning the last Tournament of Champions capped a season of firsts for Mattox Lim and South Brunswick.
The Vikings earned the Group 4 championship and went on to defeat Jackson Memorial to win the Baker-format TOC final, 3 games to 1, at Wednesday’s NJSIAA boys bowling team finals.
South Brunswick claimed its first TOC title after losing to Jackson Liberty in the 2019 final. Lim bowled leadoff for the 211-181 victory that ended the day – a far cry from where the senior started as a varsity newcomer.
“I normally don’t take first-year seniors,” Vikings coach Kelly Forthun said. “But he came every day in the summer, and he worked, and he wanted to be part of the team. And he’s my only qualifier for the individual finals on Friday.”
Lim took a liking to the lanes because of the similarities to his other sport.
“I play baseball, and like bowling, you just have to be able to repeat [motions],” he said. “It’s just, clear your head and move on from whatever problems you’re facing.”
What it means
Each group champion captured a second state title in the past decade: South Brunswick (2019), Group 3 Jackson Memorial (2013), Group 2 Montville (2014) and Group 1 Roselle Park (2016).
Montville led wire-to-wire, scoring a 2,828 thanks in part to a 604 series by senior Evan Spitzberg.
“Our programs are relatively young,” Mustangs coach Rick Crescente said. “We started in 2013, and here we are less than 10 years later, and it’s our second group championship. So, I couldn’t be prouder for our guys or for the program.”
The Morris County runners-up bowed to Jackson Memorial in one TOC semifinal, 3-1, while South Brunswick held off Roselle Park in the other, 3-2 – with a 161-160 win in Game 2 of the series.
The NJSIAA has announced it will scrap the Tournament of Champions for all sports after this school year – although boys bowling has enjoyed plenty of recent parity in the event, with 10 different champs in 15 tries.
“In a sport like bowling, when every team is here already, adding another [round] to just finish out that day, I can’t see why it can’t be done,” Crescente said. “I can see with other sports, you have to come back at a later date and play the TOC, but for bowling, it’s right here.”
Game of the day
West Orange senior Kieryn Knox completed the 17th individual 300 in NJSIAA tournament history in the third game of group play, part of a 747 series. (Watch the video at the top of this page.)
However, the NJSIAA did away with high-game awards for the team finals this year, meaning a congratulations over the public address was all tournament director Mike Mitchell could offer.
Westfield’s Perry Cuccaro (289) and Pascack Valley’s Diego Mercado (267) had the second- and third-highest games in the tournament.
Knox is the 14th different boy to fire a perfect game at states. Sergey Eccles of Franklin had two in 2014, and there have been two in girls events.
► Bergen Tech (2,586) was third in Group 4 after each of the first two games before settling into seventh. Anchor Dylan Gerber had a 683, equaling the series shot by Jackson Memorial anchor Dan Robertson.
► Indian Hills (2,317) was seventh in Group 2 to equal the Knights for best finish by a Bergen County school.
► Cuccaro had the unofficial high series (750), helping Westfield to a 1,045 second game. That was the No. 2 team game behind South Brunswick’s opening 1,080.
They said it
“Looking back at last year, we were really disappointed that we didn’t have the opportunity to come here. And I think, coming out [Wednesday] and getting it done shows that we were ready for anything at this point, and we’re just excited to be here.” — Montville senior Ryan Sylvester
“There’s really no true anchor on my team, they all bowl about the same. And again, it’s who’s bowling best at that point, that’s why we had to make some switches [in Baker games], just to find a combination that worked. … They all did a great job, and they picked each other up.” — Forthun
NJSIAA boys bowling team tournament
Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Bowlero North Brunswick
TEAM RESULTS (Group winners qualify for Tournament of Champions)
GROUP 4: 1. South Brunswick 1,080-996-912–2,988; 2. Howell 2,796; 3. East Brunswick 2,740; 4. West Orange 2,649; 5. Union 2.615; 6.Eastern 2,609; 7. Bergen Tech 2,586; 8. Seton Hall Prep 2.486; 9. Bergen Catholic 2,449; 10. Washington Township 2,442; 11. Bayonne 2,351; 12. Ramapo 2,249; 13. Passaic Tech 2,248.
GROUP 3: 1. Jackson Memorial 973–1.038–941–2.952; 2. Westfield 2,944; 3. Woodbridge 2,769; 4. Gloucester County Tech 2,654; 5. Brick Memorial 2,626; 6. Camden County Tech 2,622; 7. Warren Hills 2,600; 8. Shawnee 2,491; 9. Scotch Plains-Fanwood 2.468; 10. Pascack Valley 2.447; 11. Morris Hills 2,424; 12. West Milford 2,234.
GROUP 2: 1. Montville 938-893-997–2,828; 2. Seneca 2.702; 3. Brick Township 2,690; 4. Medford Tech 2,623; 5. Burlington Township 2,581; 6. St. Joseph (Metuchen) 2.549; 7. Indian Hills 2,317; 8. Delbarton 2.235; 9. Mahwah 2.216; 10. Millburn 2,127.
GROUP 1: 1. Roselle Park 801-938-937–2,676; 2. Sussex Tech 2,631; 3. Wallkill Valley 2,592; 4. Oratory Prep 2.554; 5. Bordentown 2,547; 6. Gloucester City 2,543; 7. Overbrook 2.419; 8. Keansburg 2,406; 9. Wallington 2.405; 10. Bogotá 2,233.
HIGH GAMES: 1. Kieryn Knox (West Orange), 300; 2. Perry Cuccaro (Westfield), 289; 3. Diego Mercado (Pascack Valley), 267.
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS (Best-of-5 Baker games)
SEMI-FINALS: South Brunswick final. Roselle Park, 3-2; Jackson Memorial final. Montville, 3-1.
FINAL: South Brunswick final. Jackson Memorial, 3-1 (199-190, 217-176, 155-209, 211-181).
Greg Tartaglia is a high school sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.