Alley Cards strike for another NHIAA bowling title

  • Colby Craig, 17, celebrates with his teammates after cementing their NHIAA state bowling championship win by picking up a spare in the final frame against Goffstown at Yankee Lanes in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. In the final, Stevens won four of seven games to take their second championship in a row and their third of the last four. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photograpsh — James M. Patterson

  • Cameron Bard reacts with relief after a shot in the NHIAA state final round of bowling against Goffstown at Yankee Lanes in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. In the final round, Stevens won 4-3. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • The Stevens High School bowling team cheers during their NHIAA state championship semifinal round with Spaulding at Yankee Lanes in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. Stevens won the round four games to one. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Stevens Assistant Coach B.J. Corliss, left, high fives his son Devyn Corliss, the only freshman on a team of seniors, after their 4-3 NHIAA state championship bowling win over Goffstown at Yankee Lanes in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/19/2022 9:52:54 PM
Modified: 2/19/2022 10:42:17 PM

MANCHESTER — Colby Craig tried to be as calm as possible.

The Stevens High senior walked up to the lane for the final frame of Saturday’s NHIAA state bowling championship, knowing a spare would likely give the Cardinals their second straight title and third in four years. No. 2 seed Stevens was locked in a tight battle with top-seeded Goffstown in the decisive game of a best-of-seven series.

Craig bowled a strike, then added a spare for good measure on his bonus balls to clinch the title.

“I tried to be as calm as I can,” Craig said. “Even if I messed up, we’re still winners in my book.”

The Cardinals won it all despite sporting just seven varsity players, the second-smallest roster among the 11 playoff teams. Teams bowl each game together, competing against their opponent in the next lane over. Each bowler has a limit of two frames per game.

Stevens received a first-round bye and faced No. 10 seed Winnacunnet in the best-of-five quarterfinals. The teams split the first two games before the Cardinals caught fire, coming from behind to win Game 3 and claiming a 226-129 rout in Game 4 to advance to the semifinals.

“I don’t think I had one game where I kept the same lineup,” Stevens head coach Shawn Wadsworth said. “I kept moving it around. But with the group I have, I can do that, because I have four kids who can bowl the five spot, the anchor spot.

“Colby hasn’t been the fifth bowler all year long. He’s always been third or fourth. Today, he stepped up. He was just the most consistent the last few weeks.”

The Cardinals had little trouble with No. 6 seed Spaulding in the semifinals, winning the first three games, losing a squeaker in Game 4 and closing it out in Game 5. It looked at first like Stevens would cruise through the finals as well — the Cardinals put up a 213 in Game 1 without any open frames, then won Game 2 by a comfortable margin as well.

Goffstown was poised to wrap up Game 3 in the 10th frame, but their bowler was called for a foul for stepping over the lane line on his last throw, so with the contest tied at 149, the teams went to a two-frame tiebreak, which the Grizzlies won. Goffstown then came from behind to win Game 4, overcoming Stevens’ three straight strikes to start it off.

“The lanes got tougher,” Wadsworth said. “The oil pattern they put out was a lot tougher than what we usually have, and it was meant to break down. It doesn’t stay the same all day long, and moving from lane to lane, it changes, too.”

The Cardinals retook the series lead in Game 5 but played their worst game of the finals in Game 6, losing by 56 pins to set the stage for Game 7. Both teams started hot before tiring down the stretch but Goffstown really struggled late, leaving the last five frames open. Stevens had two strikes and two spares through the first five frames but left pins standing in frames six through eight before finishing strong.

All seven Cardinal bowlers are seniors except for freshman Devyn Corliss, the younger brother of the only female Stevens bowler, senior Alexys Corliss. Their father, BJ Corliss, is an assistant coach, and Alexys credited him for pushing her to stick with bowling when she wasn’t feeling the passion for it. She bowled the first frame for the Cardinals throughout the day.

“It’s a big responsibility,” Corliss said. “If I open, typically the rest of the team gets pretty down, but once I start getting the energy going, it works out pretty good.”

Stevens’s season began in November, practicing at Maple Lanes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with games on Fridays. Wadsworth said he will typically put markers at certain places on the lanes for target practice, with the goal of developing muscle memory.

The Cardinals’ latest championship likely marks the end of Wadsworth’s tenure as head coach, as he said he wanted to spend more time with his daughter, a budding field hockey player.

“Everybody struggled here and there,” Wadsworth said. “It was a struggle the last few games, but the pressure got to Goffstown more than it did to us.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 60s3-727-3302.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy