NORTH BRUNSWICK — Nick Cilento watched as the first North Jersey champion was crowned at the state individual boys bowling tournament in 2014.
Wednesday at Brunswick Zone Carolier Lanes, it was his turn to carry the banner.
Cilento beat top-seeded Greg Tack of Immaculata in the stepladder playoff title match, 238-214, closing with seven consecutive strikes to become Pompton Lakes’ first state champ.
The sophomore placed 29th last year and did not advance past the first qualifying round. But he stuck around until the tournament was over and saw Jake Rollins of Glen Rock win it all with a 300 in the final.
“I wanted to see what it was like to qualify and to move on,” Cilento said, “and to see what I had to do to advance.” This time, it took a first-round score of 678, which got him past the cut from 48 to 18. Cilento added a 691 second-round series for a six-game 1,369, earning the No. 3 seed for the five-player stepladder.
“He got the experience here as a freshman,” Pompton Lakes coach Doug Batsch said. “This year, he made the cut by a good bit, and he was able to bring it all the way home.”