Pompton Lakes had a knack for doing things in threes.
The Cardinals were the only North Jersey team to complete a “Triple Crown” this winter. They won the NJIC Colonial Division, Passaic County and North 1B, Group 1 sectional championships.
Pompton Lakes also became the first North Jersey school to have three different bowlers throw a 300 game in the same season. The historic feat helped clinch the Cardinals’ status as The Record Boys Bowling Team of the Year.
“What made our team the best, I think, was that we could joke around,” senior Nick Cilento said, “but then when it was time to be serious, we took it seriously and got it done.”
Perhaps the prime example took place at the Jan. 20 Passaic tournament.
Pompton Lakes went about business efficiently and was one of the first two teams to finish bowling. While they waited for the final announcement of scores, players engaged in a friendly game of pool.
The Cardinals’ county total of 2,993 was good for their first Passaic title since 2013. Two weeks later, they earned their fourth state-sectional crown in five years with a 2,813.
“We had to push through with some big spares, because we definitely struggled that day,” said senior Cole Mulholland. “It gave us good momentum going into the state finals to dig that out and get the win.”
Pompton Lakes fired its best tournament total (3,040) at the Feb. 17 state team finals to place second in Group 1 behind Manasquan.
The Cardinals came in at No. 3 in The Record final Top 10. Their 199.3 per-bowler league average was second only to No. 2 Indian Hills (208.5), and their per-man tournament average (186.6) ranked third after No. 1 Pascack Valley (194.2) and No. 4 Wayne Hills (190.8).
Yet in perfect games, Pompton Lakes was second to none.
Junior David Neil (199.4 average) authored the first 300 in program history in the team’s Dec. 8 NJIC Colonial opener.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d be the first one to get a 300, I thought Nick [Cilento] would be,” Neil said. “He’s the anchor, and the best bowler on our team.”
Cilento, the 2015 state individual champion, joined the club on Jan. 12. His final average of 222.8 led North Jersey.
Senior Esteban Garcia (196.9 average) completed the trifecta on Jan. 25. All three perfectos took place at Parkway Lanes.
Mulholland (176) and junior Michael Milligan (183) also bolstered the scoring and fit right in with the Cardinals’ collective personality.
“I feel like people noticed more that I hadn’t thrown a 300,” Mulholland said, trying (and succeeding) to get a laugh from his teammates. “But these guys did a great job with that and handled the pressure well.”