Knock Sharks Off Pins

‘Each game goes down to the last frame’
Brianna Semb may have been inspired by the presence of her grandmother. Jacob Grossman finished with a 258-655. Jack Graves Photos

   Pat Hand, who coaches East Hampton High School’s bowling team, confessed after Dec. 18’s big win here over Eastport-South Manor, the defending league champion, that she had been pleasantly surprised.
    The Sharks, after all, had been racking up some 1,000-plus-point games, while East Hampton’s best game as of that day had been a 934.
    The visitors, dressed in dark blue jerseys and khaki cargo shorts, exuded confidence on their arrival at East Hampton Bowl. And they started off strong, sweeping the alleys clean of pins in the early going of the first game.
    By the midway point, Eastport-South Manor led by 104 pins, but the Bonackers, paced by Jacob Grossman, whose parents manage the Bowl, and Brianna Semb, whose grandmother, Jane Maxey, was looking on — and whose presence could well have served as inspiration — didn’t yield.
    “It’s always a fight when we bowl them,” Hand said. “Each game goes down to the last frame.”
    The Dec. 18 encounter was no exception. East Hampton, thanks largely to Grossman and Semb, led 735-723 after nine frames in game one. But three opens in the finale served to do them in 933-922.
    During the break, Hand wondered whether she shouldn’t sub for three of her starters — Jackson Clark, Gabby Green, and Chris Duran, the senior anchorman — who hadn’t done well in game one. Clark had rolled a 153, Green a 158, and Duran a 160, about 30 points below his average.
    She ended up giving them another chance, and she said later that she was very happy she did, for in the second game Clark improved to 180, Green soared to 211, and Duran to 203.
    Meanwhile, Semb continued to impress, with a 202, and Grossman, who bowls out of a crouch, and who was East Hampton’s most consistent competitor that day, chipped in with a creditable 192.
    “I told Jacob [who’s a sophomore] that if he’d gotten just 11 more pins, we would have had our first 1,000-point game of the season,” said the coach, with a smile.
    Going into the third, and decisive, game, “the kids were fired up — they were determined,” Hand continued.
    The Bonackers, who improved to 5-0 as a result of the victory, wound up winning the third by 4 pins, faring better in the final frame than they had in game one. “Jacob [205] and Christopher [212] finished strong, and their anchorman, Doug Pinelli [182], didn’t.”
    When everything was tallied — games won, high single game, total wood, and individual points — East Hampton won 21.5-11.5.
    Asked how the Sharks’ coach had taken it, Hand smiled. “I heard him say to one kid, ‘All you need to know is we lost — get on the bus.’ ”
    Eastport’s Brian O’Sullivan, a lefty with a deadly hook, wound up with the day’s high series, a 236-683. Grossman finished with a 258-655.
    “We’ve made the counties in all but two years since I began coaching in 2003,” Hand said the next day. “Our biggest year was ’05-’06, when we won the league championship — the only time we’ve ever done so — and the team, which had Mikey Graham and Ryan Rhodes on it, averaged 194. This year, the top two go. Last year, we were third, the year before that second. I’ve never had a bowler roll 300 in competition. I think Jacob can do it. I also think we’ll make 1,000 as a team.”