Spartans try to keep pace with Manasquan for A Central lead


Ocean Township High School’s girls’ bowling team is off to a 4-1 start and appears set to contend with Manasquan High School for the Shore Conference Class A Central title.

The Spartans have split a pair of matches against the Warriors, winning, 2-1, Dec. 1 and falling by an identical score on Dec. 22, despite a fine 545 series by junior Dana Henry, who also rolled a high game of 214 pins.

“It’s still early in the season, but it could very well come down to us and Manasquan,” Ocean Township coach D.D. Esposito said. “But we can’t take that for granted because we have other tough teams in the division.”

Ocean Township and Manasquan both stand at 4-1 and have identical game records of 15-2, which is the first tiebreaker, so the Jan. 25 match between the two schools will go a long way toward deciding the A Central championship.

Esposito’s team went 9-4 a year ago, but things have been much different this winter, as several Spartans have upped their averages significantly. Henry, Ocean Township’s leadoff bowler, averages 165 pins — 20 pins over her average last season.

Senior captain Angelica DeRose is averaging 152 pins. The three-year starter and four-year varsity veteran is 20 points above her norm of a year ago. To top things off, junior Jen Inguilli has shown an increase of about 25 pins and is averaging 175 pins this winter, with a high series of 555.

Then there’s anchor Alexis Case, who is also in her fourth varsity season and third as a starter. A cool customer under pressure, the Spartans’ co-captain averages 160 pins and made a key ninth frame spare to set up a big 10th frame in her team’s early season victory over Manasquan.

“Alexis handles the pressure very well,” Esposito said. “She’s been in tough situations before, and she finds a way to come through. She also has the ability to bowl bigger than her average whenever we need it.”

The development of Alexa Tieto has also been a plus. Esposito was impressed by the freshman during tryouts. The youngster gradually gained confidence and her scores rose from the 120-pin range to about 140 pins. As a result, Tieto has earned a spot in the starting lineup.

Ocean Township’s top reserves are junior Calli Feehan and sophomore Bella Ferraina, who will split time between the varsity and junior varsity team, which is also 4-1. Feehan is averaging 135 pins in varsity action, while Ferraina, who seems to have a knack for picking up spares, is at 132 pins.

“I’d like to see a little more consistency from all the girls,” Esposito said. “I want to see all of their games be good ones; not go from a big game to a small game. Those big games really help, though. We’re fortunate to have five bowlers who can roll a 200-plus in any given game. We’re also going to see a few 600 series before the season is over.”

The Spartans were scheduled to compete in the Winter Break Invitational Holiday Tournament, hosted by Matawan Regional High School and Keyport High School at Strathmore Lanes in Aberdeen Dec. 29. Ocean Township resumes its regular season Jan. 5 against Asbury Park High School.