By the time the match was over Feb. 7 at Sto-Kent Family Entertainment, the Stow-Munroe Falls and Hudson boys bowling teams were cheering for each other.
Unexpected behavior for a contest between the Explorers and Bulldogs?
Perhaps, but it was Senior Night for both schools and the teams were loose ahead of the Suburban League Tournament.
Stow's boys rolled a solid match to beat the Explorers 2,672-2,527. Meanwhile, the Stow girls completed a perfect run through the Suburban League, beating Hudson 2,196-1,799.
Stow's boys improved to 9-2 in the Suburban League, while Hudson's boys dropped to 7-4. The Bulldogs girls finished at 9-0 in the Suburban League, while the Hudson girls finished at 0-9.
With the Bulldogs' final match of the season at Sto-Kent, boys coach Glenn Duncan chose to insert reserve senior Austin Donovan into the starting lineup.
"I tried to bowl Austin tonight because it was senior night," said Stow boys coach Glenn Duncan. "He's improved a lot and we had a lot of guys bowl well around him."
Although Donovan was Stow's No. 5 bowler, the Bulldogs took control of the match early. A 265 game from junior Nick Arlequeeuw helped Stow take a 1,080-945 after one game.
"They started out hot," said Hudson coach John Brockway. "We started out decent, but you can't play defense in bowling. It's tough to come back from 100 pins down."
Stow stretched the lead to 2,067-1,920 heading into the Baker games.
Arlequeeuw led Stow with a 476 series (265-211), while senior Scott Hopkins rolled a 432 (207-225) and Christian Studt rolled a 427 (210-217).
However, Hudson freshman Rhami Shiyah had the high series, rolling a 482 (244-238).
Down by 147 pins heading into the Baker games, Hudson gave itself a glimmer of hope by winning game one 244-194 and game two 182-176.
"I tried to get the other guys out there to bowl," Duncan said. "After you've been sitting for an hour, it can be hard to come back in."
However, Stow rattled off seven straight strikes in the third Baker game to win 235-181 and clinch the match.
"We couldn't close the gap," Brockway said.
Meanwhile, Stow's veteran girls team took control of the match from the start. The Bulldogs led 787-654 after one game and 1,662-1335 after two games.
"It was our senior night, so I told the girls to just go out and have fun," said Stow coach Rachel Ritzinger. "We've got six seniors on the team, so this was the last time they'll be on these lanes."
Meghan Ritzinger led the Bulldogs with a 430 series (194-236).
Hudson was led by a 340 series (156-184) from Alyssa Germano, but no other Explorer broke 300 over two games.
Stow swept the Baker games 152-141, 184-162 and 198-161 to clinch the match.
Brockway said he knew his girls team was up against a juggernaut vs. Stow, noting it was good for the Explorers to field fully varsity and junior varsity teams this winter.
"We're just looking for improvement," Brockway said.
Both Stow and Hudson were set to participate in the Suburban League Postseason Tournament Feb. 11 at Legend Lanes in Cuyahoga Falls, but results were not available at press time.
"They're pumped," Duncan said of his team. "They're ready to go out an win it. Nordonia, Stow and [Cuyahoga] Falls are going into it tied for lead."
"Realistically, I would say a top five-finish would be good for us," Brockway said of the Hudson boys. "Maybe even a little higher."
"I feel good," Rizinger said. "We have a lot of ground to make up over the last tournament."
The Division I sectional tournament for the Stow girls will be Feb. 19 at 9 a.m. at Sky Lanes in Garrettsville. The boys sectional will be Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. at Sky Lanes.