By ANDY LOIGU
Warren Hills reached the pinnacle of the New Jersey scholastic bowling world on Friday, winning the Group 3 girls state final and the tournament of champions crowns on the same day.
The Blue Streaks are the first team from the North Jersey section to ever win the TOC title.
Many years of practice on the part of Warren Hills seniors Elizabeth Hudock, Jenna Henderson, Jessica Yerance and junior Katherine Winch, who have been bowling together for 10 years, went into the Blue Streaks’ climb to the mountaintop.
Warren Hills lost All-State first team bowler Abby Laws to graduation last year, but sophomore Kelcie Mannon stepped into the lineup and performed superbly. Mannon was part of the Blue Streaks’ sectional champion field hockey team in the fall.
In the Group 3 final, Winch led the Blue Streaks with a 652 series and was followed by Henderson (614) and Yerance (609). The team’s 2,949 total was the best score for any team from all four groups to reach the TOC. The Streaks then defeated Group 1 champ Westwood 157-138, 256-166 and 188-172 in the TOC semifinal and finished off their big day by defeating Group 2 champion Holy Angels 192-138, 183-198, 185-153, 185-175 in a best of five match.
Warren Hills 55 Sparta 43
In girls basketball, the Blue Streaks reached the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex semifinals by defeating Sparta on Saturday. They host the Newton Braves in the next round.
Nicole Mallard scored 21 points and Olasubomi Ajayi contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds to the winning cause. Caroline Larsen scored eight points and dished eight assists. Also, Lexi Westley provided eight points, seven rebounds and five assists. That’s a true team win.
Newton knocked Hackettstown out of the tournament, 58-39, despite point guard Amber Sagan scoring 18 points for the Tigers.
Tiger boys advance
With a 53-49 win over Phillipsburg at the Stateliners’ new home court in Lopatcong on Saturday, the Hackettstown boys reached the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex basketball semifinal, where they will face top seeded Hunterdon Central.
In a see-saw game the Tigers trailed by five points with six minutes remaining in the fourth period.
Three free throws by Jelani Awai, a couple of steals and a three-point bomb by ball hawking Tyler Akers plus a pair of free throws by Robert Begley put the pressing Tigers back in front to stay.
Akers led the Tigers with 17 points, including four threes.
Streak wrestlers reach section final
The dual meet season ended for the Warren Hills wrestlers on Friday evening with a loss at 20-0 Cranford, but the journey to that North 2 Group 3 final was a most satisfying one for coach Jarrett Hosbach and his staff, as the Streaks did their best wrestling of the season in a 46-15 win over Passaic Valley in the semifinal. Warren Hills won 11 of the 14 bouts.
Senior standout Matt Valli (28-4) set the tone for Warren Hills with a relentless 18-3 tech fall over Logan Rodriguez at 132 pounds, in the opening bout. Zach Nauta followed with a pin in 27 seconds to win the next bout, for a quick 11-0 Blue Streaks lead.
Rashon Wade Taylor scored six takedowns in winning a 13-5 major decision in the 152 pound bout for Warren Hills.
Hosbach feels his squad is “peaking at the right time” as the district, regional and state individual tournaments await over the next three weekends.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.