A 10-member team from the Merritt Bowling Centre placed second at the Intercity ‘B’ championships, held on Saturday at the Lincoln Lanes in Vernon. First place in the seven-team competition went to the hosts, while Lumby picked up the bronze medal.

“We had a great weekend,” said participant and Merritt team manager Mark Pattison. “Of course, we’re always striving for first, but our second-place finish was a pleasant surprise.”

A surprise because the Merritt squad had no fewer than three rookies in the lineup.

On the men’s side, young Jimmy Honeywell, 19, is in his first season of competitive bowling, while the ladies’ team included relative newcomers Samantha Chandler (Pattison’s daughter) and Amanda Collins.

“The ladies’ team was definitely a younger group,” said Pattison. “They bowled fantastic.”

It was really a two-team competition on the weekend as Merritt finished second to Vernon in all four divisions of the Intercity tournament: men’s, ladies’, mixed and aggregate.

“Vernon has some phenomenal bowlers, and there’s always quite a rivalry between them and us,” said Pattison. “Going into their house (Lincoln Lanes), we were expecting it to be really tough. They knew that we were their competition. They had their eyes on us, and we had our eyes on them. It was a lot of fun.”

Despite finishing second best in the team competitions, Pattison said there were a number of outstanding individual performances by Merritt bowlers.

“Jordan [Pinto] won the men’s block with a top score of 1112 for four games,” said Pattison. “That included one of the top single-game scores of the day.”

Pinto’s 313 wasn’t the best one-game score by a Merritt bowler overall. Remarkably, that honour went to Honeywell. The greenhorn stunned the crowd on hand with an amazing 322 in his third of four games.

“None of us knew where that came from,” said Pattison. “[Jimmy’s] only been bowling for a few months and has an average of about 150. In that third game, his headpins started turning into strikes. I could see his eyes just light up. It was phenomenal.”

Pattison said that the young Honeywell, who also likes to dabble in mixed martial arts and stock car racing, is a real competitor.

“He went over [to Vernon] not knowing what to expect. I told him to just relax, find his spot and not let things get to him.”

Honeywell came to Pattison’s rescue in the mixed competition, too.

“We take the three strongest men’s bowlers, and the two strongest women’s bowlers to make the mixed team,” explained Pattison. “Usually they’ll bowl right through, but the coach and manager do have the option of substituting a bowler if things aren’t going well. In my first game, I actually pulled myself after just four frames. I couldn’t hit the middle or anything. Jimmy went in and finished the game for me.”

Pattison got his groove back in time to team up with Pinto to win the coach/manager title at the end of the day with a score of 412.

“Jordan and I didn’t think that we had a chance,” said Pattison, “but the two Vernon guys were a bit heavy in the middle and couldn’t get their pins to splash. We were lucky enough to get the win.”

Pinto and Stuart Cornies, along with Chandler and Collins, will now join another Merritt Bowling Centre team, which will compete in the Intercity ‘A’ championships in Kamloops on the March 14 to 15 weekend.