CORNING - After winning a Southern Tier Athletic Conference championship, the Corning Hawks boys bowling is getting hot at the right time.
Next on the list will be the Section IV championships held Saturday at Midway Lanes. The goal for that tournament is clear.
“It’s to win,” Corning head coach Eric Kizis said. “I think we have a good team, I think we’ve come a long way. We know we can compete, but we want to win a sectional championship. Our kids will not be happy if we don’t win.”
The three games bowled on Saturday are combined with six games during the sectional qualifier, so a successful day on Saturday is key for the Hawks.
“Whether you’re down 50 [pins] or 150, it’s hard to go into anything even let alone being down,” said Kizis. “It’ll be huge to win a championship and be up going into state qualifiers.”
Senior Michael Hoffman-Bellucci led Corning this season finishing fifth in Section IV with a 209.87 per game average and will be a key piece of the Hawks’ run throughout the playoffs.
Also for Corning, Cameron Kennedy is 15th in the section with a 202.17 per game average, Brody Amidon is 16th (201.76) and Joseph Enderle is 39th (191.23).
After graduating five bowlers last season including Derik Lisi, one of the top bowlers in the section, there was an adjustment period as Corning started off slowly.
The tide turned when the Hawks took home a victory in the mid-season tournament and have been on a roll the following five weeks.
“We just brought a lot of emotion with us [to the mid-season tournament],” said Amidon. “We all realized what we could do when we won that tournament and it’s just brought the team confidence up a lot since then.”
The team has been able to come together through adversity, including a Hoffman-Bellucci collarbone injury earlier in the season.
“Michael’s injury was a big reason for some of our early losses, but other guys were forced to step up and they have,” said Kizis. “Now they’re all playing a major role. This team had to find their identity. It took them awhile to find out who they are, and now they have.”
For Hoffman-Bellucci, a veteran that’s been on teams’ that have been to states, struggling early in the season and turning it on at the end is expected.
“We always start off our years a little bit rough on the sides, but then we come back and win tournaments, win sectionals,” said Hoffman-Bellucci. “We do amazing, we place in states. I expect nothing less really.”