The Trojans rallied past Fayetteville State twice in the finals of the CIAA Bowling Championships at AMF Durham Lanes on Sunday, March 23, 2014. They won both matches 4-3 for their third league crown and first under Head Coach Ronald Simms, Jr.
The top-seeded Lady Broncos were one win away from winning the championship after leading 3-1 in the first match. But the Trojans came back to beat the Lady Broncos, and then they prevailed in seven games of the second match to take home the trophy.
“Our slogan is ‘one ball, one frame, one goal’ and we try to follow that,” Simms Jr. said. “I try to teach them not to worry about the score. Throw the best shot you can.”
Senior Amber Seay of VSU was selected Most Valuable Bowler in the tournament. She rolled two of the team’s five strikes in the seventh and decisive game in the second match which clinched the championship. The Trojans won the seventh game 200-180.
“I feel like everything comes with a challenge,” Seay said. “If you really want [something], you have to go for it. Nothing worth having is ever achieved without a struggle.”
The Trojans, seeded second, battled their way to the crown in the elimination bracket after suffering their first bracket loss, a 4-1 defeat to the Lady Broncos earlier in the day. They won their last three matches 4-3 including a tough victory over Bowie State University after falling behind 3-2.
The win set up a rematch against Fayetteville State for the championship. It was the third straight finals appearance for the Trojans.
The Lady Broncos were unbeaten in bracket play and only needed a win over the Trojans for the championship. They appeared to have it after leading 3-1 in the first match, but the Trojans didn’t roll over.
“We were not going home,” Seay said. “This is my senior year and we have been in second place two years in a row. This was not happening.”
The Trojans won three consecutive games to hand the Lady Broncos their first loss in bracket play. The Lady Broncos took a 3-2 lead in the second match but the Trojans regrouped to win two in a row for the championship.
The Trojans seized control in the last game with three consecutive strikes. The trio of Felicia Cantyne, Kiara Raiford and Seay each bowled a strike to set the tone. After the Trojans built an early lead, Seay and CIAA Bowler of the Year Rebecca Clements each recorded a strike to finish off the Lady Broncos.
“We gave it our best shot, but [Virginia State] got hot in the end,” said Fayetteville State Head Coach Bobby Henderson, whose Lady Broncos won the Southern Division title.
Every game in the finals was won in the right lane except the last game. The Trojans clinched the title in the left lane.
“The left lane was drier,” Seay said. “The right lane was what we were used to for our pocket shots. We struggled in the left lane, but it was all or nothing.
It was either go hard or go home, and we weren’t going home.”
In other elimination matches Sunday, Bowie State defeated Saint Augustine’s 4-1 and Elizabeth City State downed Virginia Union 4-1. Bowie State advanced to play Virginia State after beating Elizabeth City State 4-2.
Seay headed the CIAA All-Tournament Team. The squad included Ashley Wade and Shayla Lightfoot of Bowie State, Nicole Sciortino of Saint Augustine’s, Crystal Mujica of Fayetteville State and Clements of Virginia State.