You know you're an underdog when on the morning of the county championships . . .
"I told my guys we're gonna win it," Junior Brasino said, "and they didn't believe me."
His Division bowling teammates confirmed that story. After all, this is a Conference VII team that wasn't among the elite and hadn't won a title since 1996. Even for them, those facts trumped any athletic bravado.
Seeing is believing, right? And the crowd at Garden City Lanes witnessed the Blue Dragons dominate the Nassau tournament Thursday, dropping 6,385 pins to claim the county crown. Hicksville took second (6,050) and defending champion Farmingdale third (5,992).
"It's unbelievable," said Brandon Soedarmasto, whose 1,399 six-game series was the tournament best. "It's unexpected so it's even more fantastic."
John Licht shot a 1,327, Chris Reilly (1,276) and Brasino (1,242) for the Blue Dragons. Nathan Smith, who recently was called up from junior varsity to be the fifth bowler, contributed an 1,141.
The upstarts started up strongly, opening with an 1,106 and leading throughout. Division separated from the pack with an 1,103 in Game 4.
Licht joked afterward, "We're going to Disney World!" Actually, they're going to Syracuse for the state tournament on March 2.
"We weren't favored at all, but everyone showed up," coach Brian Maloney said. "We're known as a baseball school, so it's great to bring another bowling championship home and get this program back on the map."
You better believe it.
Roca sparks Sewanhaka
The most surprising thing, perhaps, also was the most encouraging for the Sewanhaka District girls: That it wasn't Rebecca Gotterbarn who led them to a second straight county title.
Daniele Roca shined brightest, rolling a tournament-best 1,278 series to propel the Indians, who toppled 5,830 pins. Bethpage placed second (5,494) and Farmingdale third (4,906).
"There's a lot of positive energy and we all push each other to do better," Roca said. "Today was just my day."
Sewanhaka District was the favorite, headlined by Gotterbarn, who set the Long Island girls record with a 223.5 average. She was second with a 1,268.
Kristina Genova bowled a 1,247, Morgan Roth rolled an 1,147 and eighth-grader Alanna Namit had a 763 in five games. The Indians created separation with a 1,010 in Game 5.
"It's exciting to see everyone do so well," Gotterbarn said. Her team, which took bronze in last year's state tournament, will compete again March 2 in Syracuse. "I'll practice more and be better in states,'' she said, "and with how everyone else is doing now, that makes us even better."