Paternostro wins third NEBA title

Submitted by Richard Jacobson

NEBA21May2012InsideIt happens in all sports; the grizzled veteran overcomes the tough younger competition to come out a champion. Just that happened at the New England Bowlers Association's 739th scratch tournament on May 20 at Bowl-O-Rama in Newington, Conn.

After a 12-year drought, Butch Paternostro of Wethersfield, Conn., captured his third NEBA title, earning $1,600 plus a $100 paid entry into the Ebonite NEBA Tournament of Champions in November. He defeated Brian LeClair of Athens, N.Y., 222-203, with a strike in the 10th of the championship match to seal up the win.

Paternostro first became a NEBA Champion in February 1986 at Lincoln Lanes.

“Bowl-O-Rama is my home house,” said Paternostro, now the oldest NEBA champion at age 65. “I'm comfortable there, and today, everything clicked. Match-wise, I was very lucky. Many matches were high-scoring, but I simply caught the right people at the right time.”

The event had a robust 212 entries, with 48 making the match play finals.

In order to reach match play, bowlers had to total at least a +179 after five games of qualifying. The top 16 bowlers received a bye, while the remaining began their head-to-head, single-game elimination match play.

Leading qualifier, Derek Hamm of Raynham, Mass., amassed an astounding +336, a 267.2 average, for his five games. In match play competition, Alex Aguiar bowled 300-259-290, but was knocked out in the third round as Miles Coplan of Manchester, N.H., moved on with a 299-290 victory.

Then, as Paternostro mentioned, the scoring tides turned. In the next match, he beat Coplan, 237-201, to advance to the semis.

LeClair, a Professional Bowlers Association member, picked up $1,075 for second place in his first NEBA tournament.

“I like the format,” LeClair said. “Five games with re-entries is good, but head-to-head in the semis, the high scorer can get knocked out quickly. When I walked in, I saw the numbers being shot and, I gotta tell you, shoot-outs aren't my strong point, but once I'm there, I'm committed to bowl. You just have to get yourself in the right frame of mind.”

For the first time in NEBA’s 49-year history, the tournament was televised. The semifinal and final matches will air on CPTV Sports Thursday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m.

A list of the top 48 plus the match play bracket can be found on NEBA’s next tournament is a doubles event at East Providence Lanes in two weeks on June 2-3.

NEBA has run monthly scratch tournaments since 1963 throughout New England. Since 2010, over 900 bowlers from 15 states have participated, averaging 206 per tournament. Just this year alone, 493 bowlers have entered in NEBA tournaments.

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