Led by singles champ Small, Plum bowling team has postseason to remember

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Friday, February 28, 2020 | 11:23 PM


Plum bowling coach Darryl Pilyih said coaching senior standout Shannon Small has become a pretty easy task because she rarely makes a mistake.

Her precision was on display when Small blitzed through the step-ladder bracket on her way to her first WPIBL singles championship last week at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell.

“It was pretty outstanding,” Pilyih said of Small’s performance. “She’s worked hard all year and has really improved her spare shooting. She’s just been awesome this year.”

Now Small will look to take that momentum into the Western Regional, where she is the two-time defending champion.

The Western Regional is March 6-7 at North Versailles Bowling Centre.

At WPIBLs, Small beat Penn Hills’ Taylor Parco, 208-166, in the quarterfinals, defending champ Mattie Mae White of Greensburg Salem, 247-163, in the semifinals and Norwin’s Taylor Gozur, 224-129, in the finals.

Small, a Duquesne commit, led the WPIBL with a 223.23 average during league play. If she can secure a top-12 finish at the Western Regional, she will qualify for the state tournament.

“I’ve been making most of my spares, and I’ve been shooting really well,” Small said. “With a combination of more practice and concentration, I just want to keep doing what I’ve doing all season.”

Small has confidence in her game, but like many athletes, she has a bit of superstition in her. She has a lucky blanket that was given to her by a friend’s grandmother, and she has it with her for all of her big matches.

“The day she gave it to me, I won a tournament, so I have kept bringing with me to my high school tournaments,” Small said.

Plum is sending its boys team to the Western Regional as well. The Mustangs qualified with a fifth-place finish at the WPIBL team championships Feb. 12 Nesbit’s Lanes, their home bowling alley.

“The boys did very well bowling as a team on the very challenging conditions that they had,” Pilyih said.

Vincent Cocca led the way for the Mustangs with a high series of 623. He was named to the all-tournament team. Michael Bednar had a series of 509, Nicholas Daniels had a 485, Owen Cirelli had a 428 and Sean Endler had a 419.

The boys will need a top-six finish at the Western Regional to qualify for states.

Cocca and Daniels qualified for the singles event at the Western Regional. Cocca had a strong showing at WPIBLs, finishing second to Norwin’s C.J. Turek in the final.

“C.J. was on fire, and there was nobody going to touch him that day,” Pilyih said. “Vincent did a great job to get to the final.”

Daniels, a freshman, qualified for the Western Regional via his average for the year, which was 191.13.

Cocca, a senior, finished third in the East Division with a 195.40 average. He made the state tournament as a sophomore, and Pilyih believes Cocca can close his career with another trip to states.

“I think Vincent has a good shot because he’s been there before,” Pilyih said. “Vincent has had a pretty good year, and so has Nicholas. It’s quite an accomplishment to get (to regionals) as a freshman.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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