BROCKTON, Mass. - One of the hottest bowlers in the New England Bowlers Association made history Sunday at Westgate Lanes by claiming his fourth NEBA title of the year.
NEBA President Alex Aguiar defeated Bill Holota 212-192 for his 14th career NEBA title. Aguiar is just the second person in NEBA history to win four titles in one year. The only other is Mike Lichstein, who hit the milestone in 2004.
The New Bedford, Mass., native attributes his success to his experience reading the lanes.
"I think that bowling many events and PBA events, you learn more and apply it," said Aguiar. "The game has changed. You can't play the lanes you want to play them. You need to stay ahead of the move."
The final match Aguiar's focus and patience paid off. He filled frames with a variety of single-pin spare conversions while his opponent, champion Bill Holota, suffered a couple open frames on pocket shots. Aguiar put together a triple at the end of the game, to give himself a 212-192 victory.
Aguiar finished second on the Saturday night squad, bowling 1,232 over five games of qualifying, including two 300 games (204, 300, 202, 226, 300) earning the No. 4 seed in match play.
In the first round, he took down William Tessier 224-175. Next, he did battle with Jimmie Pritts Jr., winning 229-160 to advance to the quarterfinals. Aguiar advanced again to the semis with the 233-205 win over Brian Boghosian. Chris Viale was the only thing standing between Aguiar and the title match, but he blew past Viale 216-200.
With just two more tournaments to go in 2012, the win has Aguiar five points behind seven-time Bowler of the Year Bill Webb in the 2012 Bowler of the Year race. Collecting his 14th title also moves Aguiar up the all-time list. He is now tied with Webb, Chris Rebstock and Barry Warshafsky for second all time.
"Being tied for second all time is cool," said Aguiar. "There is a long list of great bowlers who have bowled NEBA. To have this many titles has surpassed my expectations."
Thirty-two out of the 139 bowlers who entered qualified for match play. Danny Khuu was the tournament high qualifier with 1,242.
The next NEBA takes place the weekend of Nov. 24 and 25 at AMF Cranston Lanes in Cranston, R.I. Saturday will be the Non-Champion Tournament and Sunday will be the Ebonite Tournament of Champions. $2,000 will be added to the prize fund at each tournament.
- Katie Sullivan