Dallas Strikers Win PBA League Carter Division Finals
The Dallas Strikers won the Carter Division Finals on Thursday evening, defeating the Las Vegas High Rollers 256-214. In reality, they won the division back in May during the PBA League Draft.
Player/manager Norm Duke's brilliant strategy netted the Strikers Santtu Tahvanainen in the first round. Duke had never met the 25-year-old Finnish player, but Bill O'Neill and Tommy Jones convinced Duke to take him.
Tahvanainen's immense talent caught the eyes of everyone at Bayside Bowl as he aced all four of his shots on the show.
In the second round, Duke selected Matt Ogle, the 2019 Roth/Holman doubles champion. Ogle said being drafted by Duke was unexpected, but gave him a lot of confidence.
When Duke tabbed Ogle to anchor his squad, Ogle's confidence grew even more. He led the qualifying field by nearly 100 pins and mowed down the pins all evening.
"I would never chance that would be in the spot to anchor on TV," Ogle said. "They put a lot on my shoulders and I'm glad that I could come through."
The night began with some leftover holiday fireworks, as the Wonder fired off nine straight strikes. Parker Bohn III's 7-pin leave ended Waco's bid at a brick and Bayside Bowl immortality. Silver Lake's comeback attempt proved futile as the Wonder poured on the strikes.
Chicago brought midwestern, Big Ten style football to the lanes. The Hitmen and Wonder combined for just three strikes in a grueling first half. A Chicago hambone gave them a 4-pin lead entering the ninth frame, but back-to-back splits from Nick Pate and Dom Barrett handed the match to Waco.
In the semifinal, Thomas Larsen's massive 6-7-10 conversion kept Waco in the match with Dallas. The Strikers held a nine-pin lead entering the tenth frame, where Ogle needed a double to shut out Waco. A 10-pin leave on his second shot gave Bohn III a chance to steal the match.
The left-hander made a gutsy ball change before the frame, just as did BJ Moore in the ninth frame. The decision paid off but an errant shot left ended the Wonder's run.
In the final match, Las Vegas fell behind early after Ildemaro Ruiz Jr.'s pocket 7-10 and Matt Russo's missed single-pin spare. The High Rollers started to sneak back into the match, but Jones' strike in the ninth frame of the final match proved to be the dagger.
While Duke himself didn't strike on the show, his teammates had his back.
"It was a tough day and I played poorly," Duke said. "But I had the draft magic, and I've got Tommy Jones and Bill O'Neill."
The Strikers return to the Elias Cup Finals for the first time since 2017, when they won their second of back-to-back titles.
"It would mean a hell of a lot for me to get my third (Elias Cup) as a player, but it would mean more to me for Tommy Jones to get his fifth," Duke said. "He is one of the greatest team players of all time. He proves it every time we get on the floor and I have a special place in my heart for him."
The Strikers will square off against the Portland Lumberjacks in the PBA League Elias Cup Finals at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon on FS1.
Match 1: Snickers Waco defeated Silver Lake, 279-232
Match 2: Snickers Waco defeated Chicago, 177-169
Match 3: Dallas defeated Snicker Waco, 225-216
Match 4: Dallas defeated Las Vegas, 256-214