WARREN - The scores were close, leaving little room for error, but at the end of the boys northeast district bowling tournament, the the Mahoning Valley qualified three teams to compete at the state tournament in Columbus.
The district tournament was held Sunday at Crest Lanes in Warren with 28 teams competing for the chance to be one of the top five, earning a place at the state tournament this Saturday at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The top scoring team from the district was Fairport Harbor, which rolled a 4,225 after the three individual games and six baker games.
Coming in second and only 38 pins off the lead, the Canfield boys team bowled a 4,187 to earn the second spot at state. The Cardinals bowled a tournament-high 3,132 in the individual games and posted a 1,055 total in the baker games. The high man for the day for Canfield was Ben Shoman, who bowled an 813 series with a 289 high game. Andrew Letscher had the second-highest series of the tournament, bowling a 698.
No stranger to the state tournament is the Austintown Fitch Falcons, which qualified for its sixth state tournament as a team since 2007 with its fourth place finish on Sunday. The Falcons finished with a 4,082 total on the day.
"We were good, but we weren't good as we were in sectionals, but we did just enough to get us in there," Fitch coach Dino Balkan said. "Our first two games were great, our third game we struggled. But our bakers we picked it up and we shot 1,211 that put us in fourth."
Right behind the Falcons was the Golden Flashes of Champion, which finished nine pins behind Fitch. The Flashes also are familiar with the state tournament, as this is the second straight year advancing to Columbus.
"We had to come together to get it done in the baker games," Champion coach Brian Gill said. "We knew we had to come out and shine or we weren't going to go back to Columbus."
Gill was referencing the fact that Champion was sitting in seventh after the individual games. After a heart-to-heart, the Flashes came back to finish in the fifth and final qualifying spot.
"It seemed very tight all day today," Gill said. "Even though at one time during the bakers we were third, it was only by 40 pins. It was a tight, nerve-racking, day."
Along with the five teams, five individuals from non-qualifying teams advanced to the state tournament. None of the five bowlers were from the area.
The state tournament will be held Saturday. Team qualifying rounds and individual competition will begin at 11 a.m., while the team championship rounds will start at 4:15 p.m.