Stevens High wins bowling championship 

Stevens seniors Tyler

Stevens seniors Tyler "Tank" Christian, Ethan St. Aumand and Cody Pellerin stand with Stevens bowling coach Shawn Fitzpatrick (holding the trophy) after the Cardinals won the NHIAA state bowling championship on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Merrimack, N.H., its third championship in the last four years. (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 02-18-2024 7:01 PM

Modified: 02-18-2024 10:31 PM


MERRIMACK, N.H. — The Stevens High bowling team won its third NHIAA state championship in the last four years with a thrilling come from behind victory in the semifinal match and a win in the finals against Bishop Guertin that came down to the final frame in the sixth game.

“On the final frame I needed my anchor bowler, Devyn Corliss, to throw nine pins on his second roll and that is what he ended up doing and got enough pins to win by one,” Stevens coach Shawn Fitzpatrick said of the winning score in game six, 183-182.

Stevens, seeded second, won the championship at Merrimack Ten Pin Center 4-2 over Bishop Guertin after beating Dover in the quarterfinals and coming from behind to defeat Merrimack Valley in the best-of-seven semifinals.

“Every single bowler on this team contributed today whether it was shooting a spare, throwing a fill ball or just cheering,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m proud of the team and how they recovered from the adversity from the Merrimack match.”

Fitzpatrick singled out Corliss and Maddox Foster for their play.

“They really stepped up and threw some big shots to get the team back in it,” Fitzpatrick said.

Also having a strong day was Logan Aiken.

“He had a rough few weeks but ended up striking a lot today,” Fitzpatrick said, adding praise for his seniors, Tyler Christian, Cody Pellerin and Ethan St. Aumand. 

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With the state’s top 11 teams competing, Stevens opened with a bye then knocked off the seventh seed, Dover, 3-0 with scores of 171-123,188-114 and 155-102. In the semifinals, third-seeded Merrimack Valley took a commanding 3-1 lead and were about to end the Cardinals’ season.

The Lions won the first game 181-135 with Stevens evening things up at 1-1 with a 198-170 win in game two. Merrimack won games three and four, 191-135 and 213-117, and the Cardinals appeared finished.

“My assistant coach, BJ Corliss, and I told the team anything can happen. You just have to believe in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said.

The pep talk worked and Stevens found its groove.

“That is when the team energy turned around because at that point, they were feeling they were pretty much out of it going into game five,” Fitzpatrick said. “We caught a few breaks in the fifth game and it was Stevens’ 170 to Merrimack’s 150.

“We kind of hopped on the momentum then and we shot 214 to Merrimack’s 206 in game six then won game seven, 203-197,” Fitzpatrick said.

Bishop Guertin, seeded fifth, had defeated the top seeded Keene Blackbirds in the semis to reach the finals where they won the first game against the Cardinals, 245-133.

“We regrouped after that,” Fitzpatrick said. “BJ and I circled the team up, told them they needed to keep cheering and keep the energy up and good things would end up happening.”

Stevens won the next three games, 179-156, 183-127 and 199-161 to take a 3-1 lead.

Fitzpatrick said his squad seemed to have begun celebrating a little too early and watched Bishop Guertin win game five, 201-161, to close the gap to 3-2 in games before Corliss sealed the win in game six.

Stevens finished second last year in the state championship behind Merrimack but won the previous two championships.

The Cardinals will send nine bowlers to the individual championship this weekend.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com