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Bowling is not football.
Thus, when the Cuyahoga Falls bowling teams headed to Sto-Kent Lanes Dec. 12 to take on Stow-Munroe Falls, there were a lot more hugs and hand shakes during the contest than one might expect between the two rivals.
Once the balls got rolling, however, there was little doubt: This is still Stow vs. Falls.
The Falls boys bowling team rallied from an early deficit to hand Stow its first loss of the season, as the Black Tigers scored a 2,630-2,557 win.
Falls improved to 4-2 on the year, while the Stow boys dropped to 4-1.
In the girls' match, however, it was all Bulldogs, as Stow scored a 2,337-1,684 win.
Stow improved to 5-0 on the season, while Falls girls fell to 3-2.
The match came after a busy weekend for both teams.
Stow participated in the Palace Baker Tournament Dec. 10 in Columbus. The Bulldog girls finished third in the qualifying round with 2,774 pins, but went on to win tournament, beating Olentangy Orange, Gahanna Lincoln and Columbus Briggs in the finals.
The Stow boys finished sixth in the qualifiers with 2,998 pins, but lost in the first final round to eventual champion Westerville South.
Both teams then bowled at the Nordonia Knights Classic Dec. 11 at Roseland Lanes.
Stow's boys qualified second (3,768) and Falls qualified sixth (3,500) for the finals, but Stow lost 2-0 to Huber Heights Wayne and Falls lost 2-1 to Willoughby South in the first round of the finals.
On the girls side, Stow qualified first (3,281), while Falls qualified eighth (2,507) for the finals. Stow beat Falls 2-0 in the first round and Tallmadge 2-1 in the semifinals, but was upset by Nordonia 2-1 in the finals.
"We had a bad weekend," said Stow boys coach Glenn Duncan. "I was worried about this match. I'm not going to use it as an excuse, but we looked tired out there."
The boys match started with Stow leading 1,034-1,003 after one game, but Falls took advantage of an outbreak of splits by Stow in the second game to take a 2,050-1,973 lead in the Baker games.
After Falls won the first baker 194-188 and Stow took game two 217-186, Falls clinched the match by winning the third Baker game 200-176.
Falls' J.P. Frankina was the difference in the match. He rolled back-to-back 256 games for a high series of 512. That put him 84 pins ahead of Stow's top bowler -- senior Alex Snowberger -- who finished with a 428 (248-180). The rest of the bowlers effectively canceled each other out.
"I've known these guys for years and love them," Frankina said. "It's still Falls-Stow. I guess we were bowling our game tonight."
"JP rolls really well here [at Sto-Kent]," said Falls coach Tim Wiant. "He's got those lanes pretty much locked down. We are really starting to click."
In the girls match, Stow took a 1,023-699 lead after the first game and never looked back.
Stow swept the Baker games 171-111, 172-96 and 197-107.
Stow subbed liberally after the opening game, as Taylor Roberts finished with the high series of 414 (213-203). Annie Taylor had the high game of the day at 220, while Meghan Ritzinger finished with a 394 series (208-186).
Stow coach Rachael Ritzinger was pleased with her team's effort, given Stow was bowling on the third straight day.
"It just told them to stay focused," Ritzinger said. "It's a big rivalry for them. I'm very happy to be undefeated after what we did this weekend."
Falls' top bowler was Briana Doshak with a 331 series (164-167).
"The problem all year for us has been spares," Wiant said. "Spares make your game. When you look at Stow, they don't always roll great, but they pick up their spares. They're going to states."
Both teams were set to participate in the Eye of Tiger Tournament Dec. 17 at Roseland Lanes, but results were not available at press time.
Stow will play its final match of 2016 when it hosts Austintown Fitch at Sto-Kent Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Falls will close out 2016 at the Christmas Invitational Dec. 26 at Stonehedge Lanes in Akron.