Webster-Thomas, Niagara Falls have big days at Festival of Lights Tournament

Webster-Thomas, Niagara Falls have big days at Festival of Lights Tournament


By Frank Wolf

An annual holiday tradition continued this week at the Tonawanda Bowling Center (TBC). The Festival of Lights Tournament returned to TBC for the 2nd straight year after a long history at the now closed Thruway Lanes.

Club Manager Mary Chase was beyond excited to see the look on the faces of each bowler as they made their way to their designated alley. “It’s good to see so many familiar faces and all of the coaches” she said. “It’s a great tournament, I was at Thruway for 20 years before coming over to TBC.”

One of the first bowlers I bumped into Tuesday was Connor Gates of Frontier. Gates finished 4th at State’s last season but began the day as a substitute. “I obviously was disappointed not starting in the first game with myself more than anything” Gates said. Frontier came away with a 3rd place overall finish.

Derek Host finished with a 1205 6-game series, sixth best for the Falcons.

“We were back in 7th at the start of the afternoon session and clawed our way back to 3rd” Coach John Cordier said. “We didn’t necessarily have high-scores but we were consistent, especially in the afternoon after a weak morning performance.”

One school that didn’t waste time was Webster-Thomas of Section V. A regular at this tournament as well as the Roy Sommers Invitational held each February. The Titans girls team captured first place with a 5197 total pin effort. Webster-Thomas had a 63 pin lead over Tonawanda heading into the 6th game and finished with a 23 pin cushion over 2nd place West Seneca West (5174). The Tonawanda girls fell to 3rd overall with 5135 pins.


The Titans girls team were led by Cassidy Anschutz who finished with the 6-game high series of 1172 and her teammate Mikayla Ferrara who bowled a 256, good for high-game honors. Rick Croce and Chris Searchfield coach the Webster-Thomas girls team and have been working together, fielding competitive bowlers for 14 years. “I bowled on the Pro Tour back in the 80’s and ran my own shop for years. I enjoy coaching and teaching these kids immensely” Croce said. “I still have a shop, it’s at my house now.” Searchfield says the competition in WNY is superb. “This area is a hotbed for talent, it’s always loaded with competition and that’s one of the reasons we come every year.” The girls look forward to coming each year as well Searchfield says “They always ask, are we going to Buffalo.”


The Webster-Thomas boys team finished 4th overall with 5619 total pins, just 20 points back of 3rd place Frontier.

Adrianna Pencek of Dunkirk had the high-series with a 6 game total of 1172, followed by Anshutz (1157) and Marinda McClure of Tonawanda who knocked down 1143 pins.


The Niagara Falls boys team and tournament sponsor finished 1st overall.


Matt Bellavia who recently bowled a 300 game in a league match versus Niagara Wheatfield, led Niagara Falls with a high game of 247 to help the Wolverines. “I felt good all day, was really comfortable in both sessions” Bellavia said after the competition. His teammate Trevor Watts led the Wolverines with a 6-game series high score of 1279, 2nd best of the tournament. Nathan Popiernik had a 255 high-game for Niagara Falls.

Ed Ventry, Falls coach was extremely proud of his team’s efforts. “These guys were excellent all day, hopefully we can continue this momentum into sectionals.” Niagara Falls finished with 6034 total pins, 339 better than 2nd place Tonawanda (5695). The Wolverines are 6-0 in league play.

Adam Moore finished with 1236 pins on the day to lead the Warriors who also had the team’s high score with 254.

Mike Weber of St. Joe’s had a great individual effort, he finished 1st overall with 1344 total pins and had the 2nd highest score of 265. Kyle Fetes of Kenmore East finished a pin better and had the high-game of the day with 266.

Another Bulldog that finished strong was Dominic Germano. The senior bowler (and also a left-handed pitcher at KE) recorded a 1308 6-game series and had the 3rd highest game total (257).

West Seneca West did not participate in the Tournament, they are 4-1 on the season, with its only loss coming to Frontier. The Indians feature Andrew Burckhalter who currently is the top bowler in Section VI with a 220 average.

Orchard Park, another powerhouse in Section VI bowling placed 4th (girls) and 5th (boys) Tuesday.

League matches resume next week after the Holiday break.

For updates on the different bowling league’s check out

NFL Bowling Website

CCAA Bowling Division III