Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Girls Test Mettle at Baker Bowling

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Girls Test Mettle at Baker Bowling

Article excerpt

Every few years, Dick Bennett and the Bergen County girls bowling coaches Bake up something a little different.

This winter marked the 10th straight season that the Bergen girls tournament utilized Baker games – five bowlers combining to throw 10 frames – to help determine a champion.

In 2016 and 2017, teams had five starters roll three games in the morning. Each of the three afternoon rounds then consisted of five Baker games.

"I wish, in a way, that we could bowl six [rounds of] Baker games to determine the team champion," said Bennett, the tournament director and Ridgewood coach. "I like the concept of six games, but I don't think ordinary bowling always determines the best team."

County coaches agreed to another format tweak – the fifth since Bakers were instituted – at their 2017 end-of-season meeting.

This year's tournament was a hybrid of the five-Bakers-per-round concept (used for the quarterfinals) and head-to-head Baker games (for the semis/finals), which were used from 2011-15.

Ridgewood reached the finals twice during that era, winning it all in 2012 a year after finishing runner-up. The Maroons met Holy Angels in last Saturday's best-of-5 title series, owing largely to the fact that their coaches emphasize Baker bowling in practice.

"When you have to work off [a teammate's] spare or their strike, that's a different kind of pressure," said Bennett, who also has coached soccer, basketball and golf. "Part of being an athlete is to handle the downs as well as the ups. My job is to try to have them stay as even-keeled as I possibly can."

The Angels captured their third title in five seasons, and all have been under different formats. They won a typical Baker head-to-head tournament in 2014, before winning last year's "3 plus 3" event and this season's hybrid.

"As long as we know the rules, we just practice," Holy Angels coach Pat Dunne said, "and we do practice Bakers, starting from the beginning of the year, once the team's picked. …

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